Sunday, 15 August 2010

Appalachia Visited

We left town on Friday night and headed west to the KoolWink Motel in Romney, WV. Place was cool, desk dude was funny. Saturday morning we made the rest of the trip to Rowlesburg for Appalachia Visited race.

The race was the same no matter what field you raced in - 59 miles of few turns, no repeats in scenery, and a few huge hills. I raced 40+ (scary to say, although I'm not yet 40 for a while) because the field was bigger than the 1-2-3. I thought the 1-2-3 would break up really early (it did) and that the masters race would be really interesting (it was). We started with the 50+ and the W-1-2-3, about 50 people total, weighted toward 40+.

After a gentlemanly start, we went up a steep hill, which I think I led up most of the way. Then we had some flats and rollers and two guys got a bit off the front. Two dudes bridged on the bottom of this huge hill, which started off with a really long false flat. I knew the move was coming and that it would be a good one to get into, but I was stuck in traffic when they went so I missed them. I followed right after them as soon as I got clear, and two dudes caught me like 2/3 of the way across. There were 7 of us about a minute clear of the field, but the rest of the solid people from the field must have gotten together to get us because like 10 minutes later there were like 20 of us, going pretty fast up this really long hill. The group of seven turned out to have all the top finishers in it, so we had the heat to stay away. I guess that's the big question of the race - why didn't we just stay away there? Don't know. The hill wasn't ever that steep - I spent almost all of it in 39x17 or harder, but it was 7 miles long. By the end, it sucked. Betsy Shogren and Sue Haywood were with us. Good thing there were no dirt sections - they would have dropped us.

We went through more rollers and one large rainstorm, during some of which the pace was downright leisurely. It was kind of funny like that. Everyone played along with the script of "we are on a hill so we will go really stupid hard now" and "we are in sort of a nondescript part of the race so we will go very slowly and relax now." It would be interesting to see this race play out a couple of different ways. There were only three teams that had more than one guy in the race (and one of those had one, one of whom flatted), so team tactics weren't very prominent.

About 12 miles before the finish, the last hill started. This one was just as long as the previous one but steeper. Switchbacks. I would definitely have gone up in 39x23 or 25 on a ride, but this was like 39x19, with periods in the 21 when you needed to spin a bit. Lots of people got popped off early and it was under 10 people about a mile into it. As people popped off, I struggled mightily to stay with the few leaders, but had to back off before the top and got gapped.

Two dudes and I had a great fight down the switchback descent (I won that part - the descent was so fun I was laughing) and then on the rollers into the finish. The 2 guys chased me down and we battled. I attacked a bunch of times, dropped one dude and lost to the other. 6th.

If racing meant doing one of those a month and nothing else, I'd be signed up already. It was far beyond doubt the coolest course I've ever raced on, and one of the coolest rides I've been on. The tenor of the race was outstanding as well, friendly the whole time. Part of it I'm sure was that it was clearly going to take some effort to get to the base of the last climb with the lead group, and then the last climb would determine the outcome.

The missus has a better coach than I do.

Lots of November and team stuff happening. November turns out to be the funnest thing. It's a lot of work, but having a great partner and being your own boss are very fun. A few pre-production frames (aesthetically just a bit different from our real ones, but structurally identical to ours) are coming in soon, so I'll actually be riding my own bike, from my own (with Mike) brand. That's a huge step to cross, and I'm excited for it. The wheels we have on hand are now all being converted to the new spokes. I've been spending a lot of time on an FSW rim with our spokes, laced to my Powertap - it's great.

Kind of strange to say it, but I'm looking forward to the off season and doing the social "just because" rides. On MY bike and MY wheels. Sweet.

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