This week I traveled down to Traveler’s Rest South Carolina to get in a few days of serious climbing, like 21K by the week’s end. Several of us decided to head over to the Greenville Spring Training Series and hop in the Fork Shoals Road Race. So I through my hat into the CAT4 race with about 90 others, including Mike Gurtzweiler who traveled down from DC with me.
After doing a little research on Strava and Mapmyride, it looked as if the course was three 14.5 mile loops. Two climbs per lap with one climb about .5 miles at 3.1%. The weather was cool and clear but had a pretty solid cross wind.
The night before we set around and discussed possible race strategies, sit in, go off the front etc. I had pretty much decided that I wanted to mix this race up a little and not be pack fodder.
The race started off fairly tame, I had just come off of climbing Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Basically had 15 hours and 18k of climbing under the legs and felt pretty taxed. So I had little expectation for the race. I was there for training purposes.
The field had LOTS of juniors so I moved forward fairly quickly; I did not want to get caught up with them. I sat in for the first 10-15 minutes still deciding what to do. Did I want to just sit there and be field fodder or do something more exciting? I looked back at the race in Florida and decided that I should just go to the front, keep covering breaks until either I popped or the finish line appeared.
I did not "attack" the field but I did pull a lot. I talked to a few guys in the main field and they knew other US Military Cycling Members so, against all good judgment, felt that I should represent the kit, so I moved forward. I even had one guy talk about the magazine article from a few weeks ago, so that sealed the deal, forward I went. I sat on the front for close to 30 miles (pulled the entire second lap, no change of positioning). The one section with the cross wind, I absolutely buried myself trying to split the pack. Post race, I had SEVERAL riders come up and make statements like, 15 more seconds and the whole back end would have just shattered.
The last lap I knew that I was going to have trouble with the hill. It was 3.1% over about .5 miles, should have been a minute and a half climb. I went off the front to get down as fast as I could but being a poor descender I did not gain as much ground as I needed to. In hindsight, I should have attacked before the descent to gain more ground to give myself time to crawl up the other side. I did still average 340w on the climb but floated through the pace and out the back. I chased for 10 miles, could see the group but could not get back on. While part to the peloton and pulling my normalized power was 296w and average power 239w. Post-pop, NP was 272 and average was 253w. I worked harder alone for 43 minutes then I did earlier so I know my fitness was pretty good. I did have a little help in the last five miles, a rider for Krystal out of Tennessee, Larry Russell. Mike did the right thing a set in finishing 20th. I was happy to hear that Clayton Burke from the Junior Flyers that rotated though the front a few times with me ended up 2nd. Last kudos goes out to Veloshine and RTO riders, they seemed to be the only ones that shared the work on the first two laps. Possible that several others did on the third, but I wouldn’t know, Larry and I were doing a two man team time trial.
Given that I planned on staying up front and not just being field fodder I am very happy with the race. I was not looking to win nor gain points on this one. As far as representing, I had a hellava a lot more people commenting and photo ops being up front then in the back. Hopefully some of those will appear on the internet over the next couple of days.
Good decisions: not just sitting in;
Bad decisions: just not sitting in; trying to break apart the field
Overall finish: 65th. Missed the field finish by 1 minute and 24 seconds. If this was NASCAR the sponsors would have been happy, crossed finish line in front of the crowd, twice in 1st and one in 65th.
Overall fitness was not an issue, climbing and weight was!!!