Sunday, May 01, 2005

Ken Woods Memorial Race

Another freezing race, but this time it is a road race- 42 miles worth, with nowhere but open farmland to hide. I was still not feeling all that well after Tuesday's crit that chilled me to the bone. I had not felt the greatest and hadn't ridden all week, except a short commute to class in a snow shower, but that certainly didn't count as training. I was feeling run down most of the week, but there aren't that many road races in the season. Why are they all so early?

Anyway, having fully lowered my expectations, I would go for it. It isn't that far of a drive, and the forecast was for no rain. My wife drove us down. The staging area was a rural church near a valley. I registered, debated what to wear, and warmed up. The wind was brutal, and I swear I saw snowflakes landing on the car.

Eventually our wave started. I think we were the third of fourth wave to begin. There were sixty-something racers in my group. We had a nice start, with two guys immediately taking off the front. We'll see how long they last. Anyway, the pack was rather skittish, with a lot of sudden slowing for no apparent reason. I was a bit cold and sought shelter from the wind by hiding in the middle. About three miles in we encountered a crash scene from an earlier wave. Our pace continued to be erratic. We made the first turn and had the usual yo-yo effect. I started moving up as we started shelling off a few guys. We already caught a few stragglers from the earlier waves.

We ran into a bit of light rain about the time I realized there was pig shit all over the road, spraying all of us as our tires were kicking it up. The joys of rural road races- in April. Anyway, we continued with our herky-jerky tempo, losing a few guys here and there on the rolling hills. I was feeling OK, but I also knew I really hadn't been tested. About 14 or 15 miles in "we" decided to chase down the guys off the front and our speed suddenly shot up into the 30s. More guys were dropped, and I was feeling comfortable out of the wind, filling any gaps the opened. As we approached the area I had warmed up on earlier we had a bit of a hill, which proved to be the first real test. I didn't do so well and felt the tightness of my cold in my chest. I was falling a bit off the back, but figured I could catch up on the descent. It was a nice idea, but it was not to be as a guy in front of me started weaving all over the road for some inexplicable reason, forcing me to tap my brakes. I felt like I was moving backwards. This totally sucks!

I kicked it into gear to chase the pack, knowing there was a mile-long gradual hill looming. I grabbed the wheel of a teammate that looked like he was recovering. I did not want to blow up on this hill. About this time my calves started cramping up. It could well have been hydration- it is hard to drink enough when it is FREEZING outside. Anyway, I was cold, cramping, and felt the full effects of racing with a bit of a cold. My heart rate just wasn't popping like it should. I decided then that I'd drop out if I couldn't make any gains as we crossed the halfway mark. I've never quit a race, and it was an odd personal ethical dilemma. I could continue the race with whatever stragglers I could pick up, or what a bit for whatever others may have recovered a bit- OR -I could warm up in car and end what was sure to be an ordeal as the course shifted into the brutal wind again.

With great guilt, I took the easy way out.

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