Frozen Flatlands: The Road Less Traveled

22 04 2010

The Frozen Flatlands Course

Maybe it was ego or maybe stubbornness. Was I supposed to cast-off the implications of being sick? In retrospect, I should have delayed starting my race season until I was certain that I was over the sick bug. This ended somewhat like the previous year, albeit for different reasons.

On a positive note, I verified that my feed schedule works well. I didn’t get low on fuel during the race and my post-race recovery proceeded well. So I think I’ll keep it. Another lesson-learned was to start the race in the front quarter. With a field of 75 riders, the yo-yo effect even in mid-pack was ridiculous. The single-lane roads with large packs makes it almost impossible to get to the front unless you hopscotch one racer at a time.

The sky got dark and soon 1/4″ hail was coming down. This was the “frozen” part of the races title. I put on my rain slick.

At any rate, the race was neutralized until the pace car honked and after all of us had crossed the three sets of railroad tracks on the south side of town. One had to be careful about loosing a water bottle or getting a pinch flat.

My teammate Chad N. and I had discussed starting position at the staging area. We would try to move up to the sweet spot 10 to 13 riders back from the front. Matt W. was also with us but at the moment I couldn’t see him in the staging area.

I was surprised at the pace once underway. Although at 42 miles, I wouldn’t expect the pack lead to go blasting out at first either. 16 and 17 mph would be quite manageable. (I thought this would be great for my opening race and after being sick.) But this wasn’t going to last long. We picked-up the pace once getting out on the flatlands. The head and cross-winds were blasting us. More than once I felt my bike tilt underneath me from a gust. Quite unsettling.

We didn’t see any more from Matt, turns out he got dropped off-the-back early and cracked trying to catch a wheel. I know he’ll be back for other races and I look forward to it. Good effort Matt!

As the pack turned east on Bradshaw Road, I heard Chad N. say, “Here we go.” Bradshaw Road is a series of 3 to 4 medium-sized rollers and the pack lead was stepping on the gas exploiting the terrain. Guys were out of the saddle trying to keep up. I lost my position and knew that I was in trouble. My meter started to hit the peg, and my lungs just didn’t have the air. Big trouble. I was dropping fast and the lead was quickly getting out of range. Chad went on, tried to recruit for a breakaway, but no one wanted to go. I regret having missed that.

Crap. The break was gone having turned south on old highway 195, and the pack was strung-out like floats on a fishing net. I did some quick evals…either knuckle down and grunt it out solo for the next 30 miles, or turn around for the shorter ride back. Did I really want another experience like 2009? The sky seemed to darken again.

After a few minutes of debating with myself I turned around. Crap. I supposed there’s a first time for everything. My rational was “save what you got” as the Twilight race series starts in two weeks, come back then.

It seemed like a long ride back. I saw a rider a ways ahead and I thought at least I won’t be by myself. I picked-up the pace, caught up and introduced myself to Mark H. of the Arrivee team. Good conversation as we rode back to Cheney–much appreciated Mark!

We arrived in town, said later on, and went our own way. I slow-pedaled over to the coffee shop and surprised my wife with an early return. I was glad she was on-board as I was in no shape to pay attention while driving. Double-crap.

So another year with a less-than-satisfactory finish for one of my favorite road courses. On the other hand, I have all of this year to prepare for the next.

I’m glad my wife’s an optimist, we balance well. I’ll be ready for Flatlands 2011, maybe without getting sick too.

Stay safe out there. Next stop is the Twilight Race Series.


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