Friday I was feeling better and the more I rode, the better I felt. I started out with a lunch ride around the lake where I proceded to get rained and hailed on. The singlespeed rolled on undaunted and Jim picked me up after work for some repeats up Lookout Mountain. The rain and snow on the Foothills canceled our White Ranch plans.
I was reasonably happy to see the pillars again after seeing them yesterday and it felt good to ride the single instead of the road bike.
Jim was happy to ride outside instead of just on the trainer. It was cloudy but not overly cold and spirits were high. Others lacked our enthusiasm as the parking beneath the climb was deserted, totally different from Thursday night.
Got to keep the self portrait tradition going! We ended up riding Lookout twice, both times just under 30 minutes at a steady pace. My single was honestly geared almost perfectly for the pace of the climb. When we got to the car after the second repeat it was almost dark so we packed it up and headed home. My legs were feeling awesome and Marni had some Chipotle waiting for me at home so I ate and relaxed before getting to sleep for the race in the morning.
Saturday I woke up at 5am and got ready for the Deer Trail road race. It was a little bit of a drive down I-70 so I ate some Eggo waffles quickly and loaded the car up with all my crap. Marni was sleeping in and a DoubleShot kept me awake driving out to the plains. I had put the bike in the trunk instead of on the roof in case of rain. I suppose that was smart thinking for my half asleep mind.
The weather was a bit sketchy in the direction of the race but I hoped for the best. I felt good and wanted a good hard effort, not a crashfest in the rain. Had it been 10 minutes away maybe I would have bagged it but I preregistered and it was a full field so I drove on. My iPod and I rocked out for the hour drive east of Denver to the rocking metropolis (ha!) of Deer Trail.
I arrived early and checked in just as the skys opened up. Just about everyone huddled in their cars for the next hour and a half while it rained, snowed, sleeted and any other form of cold spring precipitation you can think of.
My clothing plan went from arm and knee warmers to everything I had in my bag. 10 minutes from the start time I pedaled down to the center of town to start the race. Not really a warm up but I didn't want to soak outside for an hour on the trainer. Besides it took me most of the 10 minutes before the start to wash and scrape the sand out of my Speedplays so that I could actually clip in and out.
When the race finally got underway my strategy was all washed out. I was nervous about the rain and soaking wet roads, course change, and not being able to get out of my pedals. I hung out at the very back of the field while we rode the first section with a tailwind. The pace picked up halfway and the back of the field yo-yo'd like crazy. It sucked but I was nervous about everyone else in the rain so I stayed put. As we got to the first turnaround the back of the field almost got totally split off the main bunch and I was with 10 riders or so who lost contact with everyone else. Determined not to be finished already I moved to the front of the group and told everyone to get on and work. A couple guys had the gas to pull so we rotated and pulled everyone back on quickly. At this point I was fed up with the back and began to move up on the inside of the road.
It takes a long time to go from the back to the front on narrow roads but with some aggressive riding and patience I made my way to the front. We were pedaling into a stiff headwind now but the front was unaware of how hard the back was working to stay in contact. My original plan now coming together, I began to push the pace and finally recruited some other teams to do the same. If I couldn't split the field, I was going to make everyone use some energy to stay in contact. After pushing hard up the road for a while the teams up front started to sit up. Despite taking a lot of pulls I felt good and saw my chance. As we approached a hill I made a really hard jump and put a couple hundred feet on the field in an instant. I was gassed but had a gap and kept the hammer down. Sure enough one rider came up. Then another. Then a group of 4 including 3 from Feedback. Our group of 7 formed up and finally we had a break that had a chance to succeed. The break made it back to town still in the lead and around the turnaround away from town without incident. The pack on the other hand chased us into town and there was a crash at the turnaround. The chase was on and unfortunately for our breakaway, there was a monster tailwind. We were pushing 37mph and the leaders were gaining on us. The race was all over the road now and the pace stayed high almost all the way to the turnaround. One by one groups bridged back up to the lead peleton. This was everyone's chance because once we headed back into the headwind, anyone not on board was pretty much finished.
The group that remained at the turnaround was much smaller. I was gassed from the breakaway so I sat in and refueled for the final section of the race. We passed through town as a bunch and I was still at the back. As we headed out onto the final out and back I got gapped off the back. I recovered as quickly as I could and time trialed back towards the main group over the rollers. I almost caught on by the turn around but attacks had gone out and the main bunch was strung out all over the road. When i hit the turn around the wind was brutal and I was finished. I sat up and pedaled to the finish easily. 63 miles was a good long race with the wind and hills.
Some might have been disappointed to lose contact at the end but I'm pretty pleased with the effort. On tired legs I was able to make one of the decisive moves of the race and put a lot of people out. Now I just need to get comfortable enough to stay up front from the start and stop this hanging in the back stuff. Plus I got a nasty weather road race under my belt. Tire spray in the face for 3 hours isn't exactly fun but it makes for a good picture.