As always, I really enjoyed racing in Norfolk. The road race is tough being as this year and last it was hot and the hills large, most everyone was cramping, myself included. It started up my calves on the backside of the 2nd lap and totally seized up the inside of my thighs just as we went to fire it up for the finish. I pulled out of the starting field sprint and slowed my bike enough to grab the guard rail of the bridge and get myself off the bike and onto the ground more gently than a crash would have. Quite alarming. I thought I'd experienced cramps before, but this was a new level of understanding. After one of the support crew helped me stretch out my legs, I got back on the bike and pedaled in. Still managed a 4th place finish out of the 7 of us registered for the cat 3 men. I probably shouldn't have launched the 3 attacks I did, for they were pretty expensive - energy wise - but at the same time, they're good to practice so that when the time is right, the attack comes naturally.
The next day, after finding out it was only $10 to register for a 2nd race, I decided to do both the women's open and the subsequent men's 1/2/3 race. I figured I would just take the women's race easy and then spend whatever was left on the men's race. Of course, things didn't go as planned. One of the women registered, Sarah Bickerstaff, is a cat 1 who lives in Omaha now and who did the Spring Classic, so I didn't know how tough she'd be. Also, Morgan Chaffin was there and even though she's been spending her time on triathalons, she's a good time trialist and not one to let get away from you.
Sarah kicked it right up at the start and I got on her wheel. After the first couple of laps, I was able to slide back a little and Sarah rode off the front. I attacked and bridged. All went to plan until corner 7. Just before corner 7 is a parking lot with two entrances. They put single cones in the center of them, but I was focusing on my cornering and I saw curb and cone, so scooped the corner beautifully only to find myself in a parking lot. Yikes. Sarah motored on and Morgan quickly bridged to Sarah while the rest of the field followed. I circled my bike and returned to the course.
Dang. Now I needed to chase back on. Morgan and Sarah were working together. My entire conservation plan shot, I kicked it into full race mode, catching the field in a half a lap and making it back up to Sarah and Morgan shortly thereafter. After I rested a bit we started working together. I noticed they both took the corners with care and when I was on the front a little gap would open. Being as I was wound up now, I figured I'd just start driving the pace, especially through the corners, and it worked like a charm. Eventually, both riders came off my wheel and I TTed for a win.
Fifteen minutes later, the 1/2/3 race lined up. I didn't feel like I had much leg left, but wanted to hang in as long as possible. Sure enough the first 10 minutes were painful, but staying in the field was totally doable and I was having fun. Then a train came through. Yeah, train like 'choo choo.' The race was stopped because one of the crossing arms blocked half the road on the end of the course. We were restarted with the time splits at the time of the neutralization and here's where I made my race ending mistake. Upon restarting, I thought maybe I could catch the group just ahead of us if I really gunned it, so I did and I didn't quite make it and legs went totally anaerobic. Then there was an acceleration and the group opened a gap on me and a couple of other guys. Damn. In about 30 seconds, my legs came back and I started to chase with the help of one of the guys, but although it looked like we were gaining, we didn't have the collective power to close it back up. Then the two Kaos riders off the front lapped us and I saw my opportunity. It was a huge all or nothing gamble but I figured if I could just hold their wheel for a lap, they'd pull me up there. I couldn't do it, but the effort split me away from my chase companion, so I rode a couple more laps alone and then withdrew from the race. I'd done the lone rider thing plenty in the women's race and I didn't want to go overboard on stressing my legs since I have to race a blistering crit Wednesday night at Nature Valley, but I was happy nonetheless. I felt confident that if I hadn't made the decision to gun it on the 2nd start, I would have finished with the group, which is a huge improvement over last year.
Twelve months ago, I was dropped at the start of the 2nd lap during the road race and only made about 3 laps of the 1/2/3 crit. Even though I wasn't feeling well, I still don't think I would have been able to finish with the main group. I remember how the first laps felt and even at 100% last year, I really don't think I could have done it, so I feel much progress has been made and I'm looking forward to Norfolk next year. It's kind of a measure for me because the RR is so difficult.
Look for audio updates till next week. Nature Valley reports will commence Wednesday night. Let me know if you would like to have phone txt updates on Team Rev results. Email your mobile # to sydney dot e dot brown at gmail dot com
Over and out.