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. [...]
Welcome to the Hurt
After a great spring campaign of racing in the Cat 3s capped off with a 5th in the GC for Cherry Blossom Stage Race, I found myself with 53 upgrade points and a forced upgrade to category 2 (which I was planning on doing anyway).
Kenji put it aptly in his email response to my upgrade request:
In response to your request for an upgrade,
No. You may not race with the 3′s any more.
Hahahahaha. Welcome to the hurt.”
So now I’ve done 3 races as a Cat 2. For those who don’t know, Cat 2s are often grouped in with the Pro/Cat 1 riders in races and are not scored separately. This means I’m now racing against the fastest guys out there.
In my Cat 2 debut at Eugene Roubaix, I did a lot of work, rode aggressively when I wasn’t hanging on for dear life, and managed to take 12th overall after taking 6th in the field sprint behind a breakaway. Okay, not bad.
Then I go and do something like this:
There’s me in the first lap at Silverton Road Race, probably two minutes ahead of the pack with no one in sight except that random guy standing in the middle of the road. That worked out well until it didn’t. Eventually I got caught by the lead breakaway/chase group, fell out of that group into the next chase group, fell out of that one into the next one, and so on until I was pretty much the last rider on the road.
Here’s the insight from my race report to the team:
“Well, it was hard. So there’s that. I non-attacked my way off the front in the first lap and spent the better part of a lap solo off the front doing about 80-90% intensity knowing I was going to get scooped up eventually. The group was lazy until they turned on the engines and gave me two minutes at one point. When they wanted to bring me back, they brought me back quickly. I was having serious stomach cramping issues and couldn’t really get comfortable or eat or drink very well. I got picked up in the second lap by a breakaway group of 10 including Eli and Chris, and I took pulls and suffered knowing it was only a matter of time before I blew off that pace. I was starting to want to puke (and tasting some in my mouth) with the stomach issues, and I couldn’t keep drink or food down very well.
So eventually I let that group go and drifted back to the chase group of 12 or so including Marcel and David M. I hung in there for a while before the deyhdration from not being able to drink enough got me, and then eventually got spit out backwards from that group as well. From there David M, Trevor from Ironclad, and myself had a nice group ride just trying to finish. I’ve never had so many bodily issues in a race… I remember at one point simultaneously being constipated, having shooting pains in my stomach, cramps in my calves, a heat headache, and spasms in my lower back. Lovely.
So we finished, and I actually enjoyed myself regardless. Plus I spent my first time off the front ever in a 1/2 race. I managed to force down three bottles, but food-wise I only got down a third of a flask of goo and a bite of a Will bar in 70 miles. That wasn’t going to fly.
Then after the race I went and puked a bit. I hope nobody is eating dinner while reading this.”
So after that not-so-stellar performance combined with several weeks of poor weather and tired legs while training, I was feeling fairly concerned about my condition going into Mt. Hood Stage Race next week.
The Mt. Tabor Circuit Race last weekend gave me one last racing tune-up before Hood, plus it’s one of the race courses used for Hood so it was a good race preview. The race started with strong rain, and about 60 riders took to the start line. 24 finished. The next hour and a half was filled with crashes, splits in the group, riders giving up mentally and/or physically, rain, sun, and lots of suffering. By the end of the race I found myself in a lead group of 14 riders getting hailed on with one lap to go. I bided my time and managed to sprint for 6th place. That was definitely the confidence boost I needed.
Photo: Pat Malach, Oregon Cycling Action
Which brings us to Mt. Hood Cycling Classic. 6 days, 6 stages. I was originally excited at the prospect of getting to race in a Cat 2-only field and see how I stacked up, but then they announced that the cat 2 field would be combined with the Pro/1 field. That wouldn’t be that remarkable, except that this is a race where the pros actually show up in numbers. Bissell and United Health Care will be there fresh off of racing ProTour teams at the Tour of California, plus elite amateur teams like Cal Giant and Exergy will have a strong presence. Check out some of the featured riders. To say that this will be a race of survival is an understatement.
Luckily, Team Oregon is going to have a good showing, with all the “pro” perks. We’ve got 7 strong riders, a car in the caravan, support in feeds, team cook, and a sweet rental lodge in Hood River. Now I just have to trust my legs to do their job and get me through the race.
I’ll let you know how it goes.