Sunday, May 16, 2004

Mutual of Enumclaw Stage 3

The last stage of the Mutual of Enumclaw race was a 40 mile road race. The Cat 4/5 men did around 3 laps of a 14.5 mile loop. The loop included one significant climb, as you can see from the elevation profile:

We started in downtown Enumclaw and did a neutral ride out to the race course where they let us go. Through the flats the pack maintained a good pace, in the low to mid 20's with sprints closer to 30 coming out of corners. These sections were easy, just farm roads with some 90 degree and sweeping corners thrown in.

The fun began (not surprisingly) on the hill. I managed to stay with the pack for the first climb, but on the second time up I got dropped, as did many other people. I saw some smaller packs starting to form ahead of me after the second climb, but couldn't catch up with them. I was riding with one other guy and he didn't have the legs to work with me to get up to the chasing group.

After we descended the backside of the mountain following the second climb I found myself in a group of 3 people that I stayed with back into the flats. Unfortunately, one guy was setting a very good pace that I just couldn't keep up with. I managed to hang on to the back for a while, but was eventually left on my own. This is when the suffering really started. You're on your own, nobody to draft... just you, the wind and the fields. You have some good conversations with yourself when you're alone and hurting that much.

As I approached the bottom of the climb, I caught one of the guys from the 2 that dropped me earlier. I managed to pass him (finally!) and kept going up the climb. Out of nowwhere, the guy from the second climb that couldn't stay with me comes up and passes me! I couldn't believe it! I wasn't going to let this guy beat me so I gave it all I could, suffered up the rest of the hill and beat him. I also managed to catch a couple of people along the way.

All in all, I finished 61st out of starting field of 100. Nothing spectacular, but I'm quite satsified with it since this was only my third race. Coming in to this weekend I had just done two short criteriums and to be honest, I hadn't done any real structured training. There is a lot of room for improvement.


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