Gratuitous uniform pic of me before the TTT
I just finished my second weekend of racing this year. We hosted the race this time. I have to say that I am incredibly pleased with how I did. I probably won’t be moving up to C’s this year, but I’ll end up toward the top of D’s. We had just about everybody from the team race this weekend. One guy is injured, and another is too out of shape to race just yet. They’ll do some of the later races. Now to get into the meat of it….
Saturday morning we headed out to Stanley Draper Lake. The temperature was in the mid-fifties, and it had been drizzling. I was a bit late with my buddy because he slept in, and he was my only feasible transportation to the race. Luckily this didn’t seem to be too bad. It was pretty miserable out there; too cold to wear just shorts while standing still yet too warm to wear base layer for the race. We set off on a route that I was quite familiar with. We made our way past the first turn letting everyone know that they should slow way down for it. The section we rode then was filled with potholes. It was much worse than I remember last year. On the bright side we got up the hills, and I wasn’t even pushing that hard. There was a rider from UNT that got dropped on one of the first few hills; poor guy. He finished a sizeable chunk behind everyone. Kudos to him for finishing the race mostly by himself.
The next turn put us out of the hills and into the wind. The pack stayed pretty tight at a 21-22 mph pace. It felt a bit slow to me, which is a bit strange. I’m normally pushing pretty hard at that pace on that section even with a number of teammates. I’ll just assume it was a larger group causing a more effective shield from the wind. The whole first lap was really wet. I was coated in red dirt by the end of it. As we turned North we brought the pace up to about 28-30 mph. This continued for the last 3 miles or so on the first lap. I became pretty exhausted by this, so I dropped off. I put in several efforts to catch them, but after the first mile of the second lap it was clear I should let them go.
I pushed through the hills to the best of my abilities. I slowed down on more than I would like on them though. I think I’m going to add some intense sustained efforts followed by some climbing to get better at this. I am not so great at hills, but this could help mitigate my weakness. After one of the fast downhill sections in this area of the course I saw 3 of my teammates on the side of the road. One of them was face-down on the pavement. The other two were clearly okay. The teammate that was down has crashed in all 3 road races this year. He couldn’t recall the month, so they took him to the hospital. He had to get his lip sewn up, but was otherwise fine. His bike frame cracked though.
On the second to last hill I was getting caught by two riders, and I heard one of them go down. He and the guy with him never caught me up, but both were uninjured. At the end of the hills I caught on to an Arkansas rider. I talked with him for a bit and asked him if he wanted to work against the wind. He agreed, and we pushed a rotation for the majority of the second lap. When we were closing in on the finish I told him good ride, and rode next to him for a bit having a chat. When the conversation lulled I took off and opened up a gap. I had about 30 meters or so on him at most. As we approached the finish there was a rider from West Texas that had a wheel change and was picking his pace back up. I pushed to catch him, and sprinted for the line. I held off the Arkansas rider and passed the West Texas rider with about 20 feet to go. Great road race.
The time trial was uneventful for the most part. Still wet, and miserable. It rained really really hard with about 15 minutes before the TT started. I was paired up with the teammate that drove me. We had another D squad with 4 guys who we pretty much put together to give a better chance of winning. I stayed with my teammate who was definitely stronger for that. On the way down we got caught by the Arkansas squad behind us, but on the way back we caught them. Poor planning I guess.
This was the beginning of the TTT. I am in the back.
Dinner was good. Beer was had.
The crit was the next morning. We were even colder. This time I put on my thick winter layer underneath the uniform. I had one warm-up lap. We took off pushing about 25 with the wind and 21 into the wind. I stayed in the top 10, but never pushed to the front. I stayed in this position through half of the crit. With 5 laps to go, the pace increased. I couldn't quite hold with the front guys, but I was still in the mix.
I am on the left, the OU rider to the right of me got second, and the OU rider on the right side of the pic got first. All riders pictured are either OU or Arkansas. Our schools dominated the worst division at this race!
I was gaining on opponents all through the last lap, and I went through the final turn perfectly. I sprinted for the line, and passed a couple of people right before the finish. It felt great. If I can focus on maintaining intensity I feel as if I will be able to reach the end of these races with the podium in sight.
Here I am passing all three other riders just before the finish. Looks like I beat the West Texas rider to the finish twice. The final guy that I beat is a UNT rider that is just behind me from the photographer's angle.
Until next time, I'm gonna take a big nap now.