Saturday May 21, 2011
71km (46 miles) with 810 meters of gross elevation
Today’s pace was fairly steady through the first 50km. There were a couple of minor accelerations, but no attacks. Just as we began a series of 5 climbs in the final 21km, there was a crash in the middle of the peloton. Up until this point, the peloton had been reduced to ~25 riders (~20 had been dropped already). Three went down (they were not injured; just some scrapes). Unfortunately, I was caught behind the crash. I managed to brake and swerve, but the peloton had split.
The gap that opened was only a few seconds, but the riders ahead of the crash accelerated immediately. By the time I was back up to speed, they had a 50 meter gap on me. I knew I had to bridge. Otherwise, my race was over.
It took me 4 minutes of hard, solo chasing to catch the lead group of 10-12. I was hoping that the other 12-15 riders caught behind the crash with me could help. I looked back and saw 5 chasing hard, but they were slipping further behind.
I put in a massive effort and finally caught the leaders at the foot of a steep climb. My HR had been in the 180s for 4 minutes and my legs were on fire. I had burned 2 matches, while my contenders in the lead group were drafting one another.
I caught my breath while we continued over undulating countryside. Suddenly, the skies opened up and it started pouring. Cycling, especially racing, is not fun in the rain. Its cold, the roads get slippery, and visibility is poor with the spray flicked off the wheels in front.
I wasn’t sure what to do. I didn’t find the wet racing particularly appealing, but I didn’t want to abandon with a shot at the top-5. So, I consulted the rule book for guidance. Oh, Rule-5: HTFU. Ok, I am back in the race.
Two guys attacked on the second to last climb and opened a nice lead of ~20 meters. The hills suit me, and I began making my way through the now fractured group and took 4th wheel over the summit.
The four of us worked together effectively by sharing the work at the front. I glanced back several times to see who was behind us, but I couldn’t see anyone through New Hampshire’s twisting rural roads. I guessed our lead was at least 30 seconds.
The finish line sat at the end of a 400 meter moderate uphill climb. I really wanted to stand on the podium, but this finish is best suited to a sprinter or power climber. I am neither. The sprint opened up at 300 meters out. I tried to hang on, but it wasn’t in me. Bridging after the crash had burned my matches. Two guys sprinted neck and neck to the finish, the other took 3rd, and I finished 4th. The chasing group came in 1 minute and 14 seconds behind us.
Bottom line: a good race and I am happy with the result. I would’ve had a better chance if I wasn’t caught behind the crash, but still, sprint finishes are not my strong suit.
Click here for my Garmin race data (heart race, calories, speed, elevation, etc.).