Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bear Lake Classic

The Bear Lake Classic road race is one of my favorites.  Not only is Bear Lake one of my favorite places on earth, the race is one of very few flat road races in Utah.  It usually ends in a bunch sprint and the few years I've done the race, the weather has been great.  This year also presented me with a new challenge.  As a Cat 4 the past few years, I only had to do one, 51 mile lap of the lake.  As a Cat 3, I would be going around twice.  As with my other Cat 3 experiences this year, I was worried more about keeping up for 4 + hours, not so much about winning.  Aside from making huge mistakes at the finish, it was a successful race for me and I think now I can start focusing on getting good results rather than just getting by.

From the beginning, the attacks began in earnest.  Without any teammates, I was forced to be one of the guys to bridge.  I did have some willing competitors but I spent a lot my day counter attacking and bridging.  The ride is mostly flat, but the east side of the lake hides some significant rollers, high powered big ring climbs that can take some energy.  As I found out at Antelope Island, I actually excel at that type of power climb and made sure I wasn't dropped or gapped on that side of the race.  I even lead a few of the climbs keeping things in check.

The first lap was fast.  The group was well behaved during the feed and my wife was able to get me my mussette as well as a few friends' as well.  I passed off a bottle to a friend and the other was quite impressed that my sweet wife would handle his bag as well.  The group was chill while we refueled and got situated then the speeds got hot again.

On lap 2, there were fewer attacks but they were stronger and got away further.  In the last 20 miles, speeds got really fast as no one was going to let anyone get away at this point. 

The last 5 miles is where I had really put in a lot of thought.  I knew things could be fast.  Little did I know I would be at the front, going 15 mph as the chess game ensued.  With such a short amount of time left in the race, I wasn't going to expend any more energy than necessary.  So I as I sat on the front, I went as slow as the group would tolerate.  If they wanted to go faster, I assumed someone else would take the lead.  With about 2 miles to go, I got impatient and hit the gas.  The group followed and I found myself 4th or 5th wheel around the sharp left hander that led to the 1km finishing straight.  For some reason, I got gapped.  And with 1 km to go, I failed to bridge the gap.  I'm not sure what happened, but just as I blogged about last week, there's that split second where your body and mind have to jive and you go for it.  I didn't do that and missed the sprint.

I want that finish back.  I had enough energy, just not enough experience I guess.  I'm stoked I made it around twice with the group but as I said before, maybe its time to start focusing finishing well, not just making around the course.  I am stoked I was there.  And 4 hrs 13 min for a century is the fasted I've ever done 100 miles by about 45 minutes.  My base from winter training is also shinning through.  I've recovered well wasn't completely drained as I have been in the past.  More proof I could have made a better effort at the finish.

So, my education continues.  I look forward to some crits in the next few weeks and my summer gets real busy with Tour de Park City preparations in high gear.

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