Hot, fast, fun. What else could you ask for in a 2 day, 3 stage bike race? The Alex Kim and his crew at B4K put on one of the best bike races I've been to in a while. It was refreshing to have such great organization along with beautiful, if a little hot, weather and a super competitive group of Cat 3's to race against.
The weekend started in earnest with a fast and flat criterium. The 1 mile course included 2 minor chicanes bookended by to sweeping round abouts. I never knew how difficult a dead flat course could be however. From the starting whistle, it was full gas. The turns were blazing fast and big enough where you could pedal through the turn. This just generated more and more speed with very few guys able to get away for very long. But with about 6 laps to go, Tyler Matson attacked just as the prime lap was contested. Caught off guard, I was surrounded by guys who were spent from the prime and only 2 more guys countered and bridged up to Tyler. Without teammates, I could only do so much work to bridge but I took my pulls regardless. It seemed however the group was content with racing for 4th place at that point and we failed to bring back the breakaway. With nothing but pride on the line the sprint was chaotic and managed 16th place out of 30. I gave it all I could however and sprinted with what I had. Not the best result but I had a ton of fun and make it interesting.
Day 2 began with a 54 mile road race, 6 laps of a 9 mile circuit that included a gradual climb topping out with a steep but short final push about the half way point. What goes up must come down however and the last half of the lap was downhill. I was excited for this course because I can handle short, punchy climbs. I think that's actually one of my strengths. But circumstances made for a difficult race for me.
On lap 4 a small group attacked while most of the peloton was in the feedzone. Not a cool move at all. What it meant for me was that in order to bridge, I had to burn some matches I was saving until the end. It took a good 3 or 4 miles of hard effort to bridge but the group managed to compress. The group that initiated the attack got an earful from the group but we made it to lap 5 together.
It was on the 5th lap that I got dropped on the climb. It was frustrating so gritted my teeth and made a huge effort to get back to the group. I soloed for most of the rest of the lap and finally got back on with the group just after the start/finish line. I was shelled so I looked forward to recovering at the back of the group for a moment. I kept thinking to myself it would be much easier to stay on with a few short hard as heck efforts rather than get dropped again. But when the group turned it on for the final climb, I had nothing left. The 4th lap bridge and then the 5th lap solo had sapped it all out of me. I finished by myself, but I wasn't last! I really wanted to do the TT and dropping out would have eliminated me from the race. So I finished. Shelled, but I finished.
That afternoon we contested the TT. I sat and rested for most of the day trying to stay hydrated in the heat. The fast crit and road races had taken their toll, however. I made the 4 mile ride to the TT start line my warm up. The TT included a decent climb and I felt like I was going backwards. I gained time on my 30 second man but the guys who started 30 seconds and 1 minute behind me both passed me. I did what I could on the downhill portion but losing at least a minute on the climb hurt. I managed 20th place, about 2 minutes behind the leaders on the 9 mile course.
All is all it was a great weekend. I finished and proved to be competitive at times. I'm not recovering very well however and I feel a huge amount of fatigue. My legs have felt like lead all week. Yesterday I fell asleep an hour after drinking a Rockstar and come to think of it, I'm always ready for a nap, regardless of how much I did or didn't sleep the night before. I've always been like that but maybe its time for a physical to see if there's something amok.
This weekend I 'll be at the State Road Race Championships. Its on a course that gives me fits every year with its steep 1 mile climb every lap. It will be a training ride for me I'm sure but I look forward to it anyway.
Again, great job to my competitors this past weekend and to the B4K group for putting on such a great event!