Okay so I'm not really a road racer but I wanted a long hard workout and this race seemed to perfectly fit the bill. Before I disect it more than needed, let me just say that I had a great time and will be looking forward to doing a few more road races. I'm not so sure about crits still but road races, yes!
On to the story. I decided Friday afternoon to do the race, finding out about it only a few hours earlier from a friend. After work I ran home, swapped a few parts from the TT bike to my road bike and went for a little ride south of the lake. I felt great and the bike worked fine so we loaded up the car that night. Marni and I woke up early and headed out to the race in rainy, windy weather. The reports said the foothills had already got the worst of it and it was passing though so I figured the race would still be fine. I got to the race and warmed up and before I knew it the 90+ strong group of cat 4s were rolling out. I started the race mid pack and it didn't take me long to get the hang of moving up the group. A few 1 or 2 man breaks tried to get away but it was calm and the group was huge. There was no way a 1 or 2 man break was getting away. I moved up front during laps 2 and 3 of the 5 lap, 55 mile race. I felt good but really had a hard time eating how I wanted in such a big pack. I managed to get down 2 gels and some water thoughout the race which for me is less than ideal. As the race pressed on a few more people had a go at breaking away including myself. However no one came with on the breakaways. It's a shame because I think a 10 person break might have escaped from the pack. My solo break made it up the road a ways at 32mph but with no one to share the work with the group caught me a couple minutes later. At least I was happy to give it a shot and my legs felt pretty strong. I do have to say that the accelerations out of every corner and the short dirt/washboard section did take a bit out of me as I haven't done any of that kind of work in training. I was able to hang on just fine but I think a fast group ride once a week would go a long way towards improving my ability in that respect.
During the race it was fun talking to the other riders and I even got a couple complements on my 20 year old ride. The fresh powdercoat really does look nice. The race progressed and during lap 4 I remained in the front, coming through the start/finish line in the first 5 riders for the final lap. I knew that this lap would get difficult with a lot of the riders wanting to kick the pace up before the finish. The first half of the lap went fine despite a slight bobble on my part crossing up a wheel and braking a bit too hard. Sorry about that other racers. No harm was done though and the pace kept picking up. I ended up shuffled to the inside of the pack going down the fastest descent and as it turned up to the hill following I made my big mistake of the day. A rider in front of me flatted or blew up and stopped in front of me. I got slowed way down and the pack gapped me along with some other riders. I chased as hard as I could but missed getting back on and that was the end of it. I rode as hard as I could to the finish but there was no catching the group. I was disappointed to finish off the lead bunch and not get another shot at a breakaway but lesson learned. At least I accomplished the hard workout I set out to do, gained some experience and had a lot of fun in the race.