Yesterday marked my long ride ever, coming in at approximately 139 miles as a part of the Rapha Gentlemen’s Race. We headed out to the beach (Lincoln City) on Friday evening and stayed in a suite at the Inn at Spanish Head thanks to team president Jim who served as sugar daddy for the evening. [...]
Suffering at Sublime Sublimity
I made yesterday’s race a lot more interesting than it was supposed to be for myself. Sublime Sublimity, now in it’s 2nd year, already has a reputation for being one of the harder one-day road races in Oregon, not to mention that it comes very early on the calendar. For my field, it was 40 miles of rolling hills and unforgiving terrain that doesn’t give you much of a chance to rest. As it turned out, I gave myself pretty much no chance to rest.
About half way into the first lap (of 3 laps plus several miles of a fourth lap to the finish), I rolled slightly off the front of the field with teammate Chris DuBois coming over the top of a climb. We decided to work just enough to hopefully put some panic in the field and make them chase us hard enough to drop anyone that was hurting early in the race. The intention was never to stay away, but after two more riders bridged the gap up to us, we decided to give it a go. DuBois dropped back to the main field fairly quickly, but the remaining three of us took off up the road. It was an interesting mix in the break, partly because two of us could climb, and the third rider from Portland Velo was extremely strong on flats and downhill but couldn’t climb very quickly.
After only 5 miles or so, the break began to fall apart, and I found myself alone up the road with somewhere just under a minute lead on the main field. I decided I had nothing to lose, so I chose to try to stay away solo with just over two laps to go. I had several things working in my favor besides being strong on the climbs and having decent time trialing strength; first, the course had enough corners and rolling terrain that I knew if I could stay about a minute ahead of the field, I’d be out of sight for the most part. Second, I was catching a number of Cat 1/2 racers that had fallen off the pace of the race that started several minutes ahead of us, and they would serve to confuse the chasing field nicely on exactly where I was at.
After a lap off the front on my own I was feeling decent and still had about the same gap on the field of a minute or slightly less. Then things got interesting when a dump truck blocked the road briefly, bringing me to a stop and allowing the main field to catch up with me. The race officials kept the main group back and allowed me to regain my break time once the road was clear, but I think having me close in their sights waiting for the dump truck probably made them smell blood and want to bring me back. Worse, I was in a really nice rhythm, and having to completely stop and then immediately get back to a hard threshold tempo really hurt and I started cramping slightly.
I stayed away for another full lap while fighting cramping, but eventually I was reeled back in with only 2-3 miles to go in the race. At that point I was hurting and worried I’d get shot out the back of the lead group, but I managed to hang in alright and actually found the strength to close a gap or two that opened up during attacking that occurred in the final miles. I spent the last mile yelling at Chris DuBois that my legs were toasted and I’d be pissed if he didn’t beat me since he should be fresh. Apparently that helped with some motivation, because he had a strong finish and came in 6th. I hung on for 10th on a short finishing climb with a 20 percent grade that made everyone’s tired legs scream at them.
All in all, I’m pleased with how it went, even if a 30 mile time trial wasn’t in my original plans for the day. This one told me a lot more about my fitness than the win at Cherry Pie did. It’s good – really good. April races, look out.
My aunt was there and took some great photos:
Next up come the Banana Belts which I’ll mostly treat as training races. That said, if the opportunity to snag the rest of the points I need to secure a Cat 2 upgrade arises, I’ll definitely take advantage of it.