July 29, 2008

Summer Update from Rich

The cosmos is out to get me.
Something keeps me from racing each year. After a great spring training last year, pneumonia hit. This year I got in a couple races before ending up with a broken tailbone, caused by the Velo Bella I'm married too but that''s another story. I started riding again, we then we took a direct hit from a tornado the same day RAGBRAI came to town. I've been far too busy to find my bike the last few weeks.

Anyhow, I realized I never posted my last race report:

The Iowa City Road Race was a brutal one. Did I mention it was 45-50 degrees that day with 30mph winds? Our group also had to start 30 minutes late, due to a road closing accident on course. So much for warming up.
The side wind was hard and you hand to hang on between tree breaks. We turned with the wind, and the pack soared down the road at 35mph. Halfway down the stretch, there was the big hill. The pack split with some stronger riders breaking off. I hit the top with another rider as we watched the lead pack break away. He looked at me and said "If we don't catch them, the wind will be hell heading back" So we took off. In 53x11 gearing, we spun out our legs. We had a conversation at 41mph --- Yes, we were able to talk easily --- I jokingly clicked at my shifter and said "I'm out of gears." I also made the prediction of the day, of our return speed. 40 down, 14 back. Sadly, I would be right.
Over the next 3 miles, we got back on the pack before the turn South. Luckily, the course tapered down to a short section here. It was 1/2 mile until it turned West again. No one expected it, and a few people tried to go straight and made a mess. I just found the first wheel I could, hoping for some shelter. I somehow ended up with a rider that had the same power output as me. We ended up taking long pulls, and right when you got tired, the other was there. I turned North for the start of the second lap, and after a few moments, I looked back and my counterpart was gone.
I made a solo attempt with my tailwind, another 7 mile, 40+ mph effort. I hit the headwind again, and had to time-trial it back to the finish line, 7 more miles. I kept searching fore and aft, no one was in sight.
I was never so excited to see the steeple of the Mennonite church we started at. At a mile left, I kicked up the pace to finish strong. Then at 1/2 mile, bikes started creeping around me. I saw a few familiar jerseys and realized the trailing pack caught back up, along with my two missing helpers. I jumped in and was just getting into groove. Then I saw the move.
The move, where one guy had to just get out in front. And then it happened. All 15-20 people went from a 3 rider thick mass to a road filling sprint. You know the final highlights of the Tour, where they show that happening and sprinting to the line? Well, it looks amazing when you see it in reverse.
I hads no sprint left due to my solo effort, but I hung into the back of that pack.
The back of the pack! That's an improvement. I'm usually one of those stragglers just behind the pack!
Hopefully, I get enough of my barn out of the neighboring cornfield to get on the bike and make a few final events this year. Maybe I'll get a cyclocross bike built and try another season too. There are a lot of gravel road races around here in the fall.