The infamous route.So last weekend I went to Arkansas. I have waited a bit typing this up because I had a pretty bad weekend there. Climbing is certainly not my specialty, and a combination of factors led to me being rather unsuccessful in the race. The course was the same as the Hell's Kitchen Road Race, and that means that we had to do a climb that was pretty unforgiving. It topped out at 22% for a short stretch, and I was in agony there.
Back to the beginning...
We drove up to Fayetteville on Friday night staying at a teammate's grandmother's house. The next morning it was a bit wet out. We got to the race course, and quickly put everything on. I hate running late for things. Within the first second or so an LSU rider crashed at the start line. It was good for a quick laugh. We had a fairly boring first few miles. Some conversations with people, etc. Then it started to rain. It rained a bunch. I was pretty miserable not just because of the rain, but also because we started to hit harder hills. I was getting dropped off of the back, and settling into my own pace. As we went up the toughest parts of Hell's Kitchen I was losing it. It just hurt. There is an intense sense of relief when you get up to the top of those sorts of climbs. You don't worry about what it's going to be like when you hit the next hill, you're just thankful this one is over with. Well, each subsequent hill I was hurting on.
The descent was pretty fun. I was apparently the only rider that had good visibility. I was wearing my PowerBar hat that I received in the seventh grade from my geography teacher, who just happened to be a retired pro. I also had my Oakley sunglasses, which didn't fog up unlike everyone else's glasses. I topped out at 42, which based on how wet it was and how much the rain hurt at those speeds wasn't too shabby. I struggled through the last 8 miles of the race having exhausted myself on the climb. I did better than 20 percent of the riders, which is low, but it was on a course that I am certainly not built for.
I have had this hat since I was 13.
On to the Time Trial. I didn't want to do it. I told my team I was hurting, and they did the typical thing of "unless it's serious..." So I went with them. We had to ride 8 miles to the TT along the course. All of the teams were out there riding at the same time. During this ride there were a few "What happens on race weekend stays on race weekend" moments. I won't get into details, but it was pretty funny.
I took the first pull for my team. I basically said I was going to burn myself out on one pull, then they could go. I knew that I wasn't going to make it very far, but I pushed myself. The start was at the bottom of a short but difficult hill. I powered up it, and stayed at the front of the group letting everyone else recover. I was already pushing myself pretty hard at this point, but I stuck with it for the rest of the first mile. I was broken at that point, and waved them on. I pedaled the rest of the way counting down each tenth of a mile. When it was over I was really tired.
We ate at a place called Mellow Mushroom. They had some pretty good pizza and beer. I was glad to be in a state that had decent laws regarding beer for once. They could actually keep a decent number of craft beers on tap. No offense to the major beers, but I need something stronger after a race.
The next morning we had the crit, and I did poorly. I'm actually pretty mad at myself for this one. I didn't DNF, but most people would have in my situation. I got lapped, and finished so far behind everyone it hurt. Half of the course was downhill, and through several turns. These were not a problem for me, and in fact I would gain ground on this section. Half of the riders were from Arkansas, and as physically fit as they are, they still don't know how to go around corners. I got accordion-ed in the corners and tired on the hill of the course. I just hope things aren't so bad this weekend at Kansas State.
Here is me feeling dejected after being ejected from the group.