My power stats for the race:
Peak 5s (620 watts)
Peak 30s (520 watts)
Peak 1min (381 watts)
Peak 5min (277 watts)
Peak 20min (245 watts)
Peak 60min (218 watts)
Full power data: Training Peaks Link
To summarize the race, it had a weird start then became very intense midway. I was in the cat 3/4 pack of what used to be the Copperas Cove Road Race renamed to the Megan Baab Memorial Road Race and I was plodding along rather comfortably. Too comfortably to be more precise, because it didn’t take a lot of effort to stay somewhere in the top 10 spots for quite some time. I even pulled a few times and still maintained an average wattage under 180 or so, I wasn’t sure what was going on or why it was moving at this pace. A few people tried to pull ahead and get the group to pick up the pace but none of that panned out and this continued for the next 15 or so miles. Eventually around mile 20 or so the cat 4/5 pack passed us up and the officials on motorcycles “neutralized” us by keeping us at a steady pace while the cat 4/5 pack passed us up, they held us at that pace long enough to give them about 5-10 minutes of buffer. Of course we had to heckle them a bit and someone yelled out “upgrade already you sandbaggers”, a term for someone who is purposely withholding an upgrade so they can win lower category races.
Little did I know what I was in for, this was my first cat 3/4 road race as I previously ran with the 4 or 4/5 pack. Somewhere around miles 25-30 the pace slowly picked up and kept increasing until we were pushing about 27-28 mph, at that point I found myself digging deep just to catch up to the pack and try to stay in the lead peloton. There was a dirt section that I was told was about a mile long which it turned out to be several miles long. Unfortunately I didn’t know this race and didn’t know where the dirt section was more precisely located despite my best efforts at googling things. I did hear that it was around 30 miles into the race and I knew it was going to be paramount to have good placement. Despite my best efforts to stay near the front of the pack I was not with the front when the big attack from the main peloton thus increasing our speed happened. This happened right before the feedzone, around mile 29 which was also about a mile out from the dirt when the shit hit the fan so to speak and the real race was on. I started out from here averaging about 24 mph with a heart rate of around 180bpm for my time in the dirt all while dodging holes, gravel, rocks and such while trying to catch up with the main peloton. Once the dirt section was over the fast pace was still going and would continue for another couple of miles but at that point I was far from the lead pack. I learned a lot from this experience in the end but even though I was basically “dropped” I didn’t let that stop me, next time I’ll make it even more prudent to stay near the front of the pack and stay with the acceleration.
Despite being dropped I figured since I won’t be placing in the top 20 or so I’m not going to be the guy in last place either. So I was hopping from chase group to group that only contained about 3-4 people each just trying to hang on. I thought about the whole fact of “don’t help the competition” as people were drafting off of me here and there doing this but I could tell most of those I was passing looked as if they burned the last match in the matchbook so the speak and I wasn’t too worried about them. One thing I developed from my time commuting to work was the ability to do a lot of little “micro sprints” from stop sign to stop sign, or getting over that next hill even when I was already tired (gotta get to work on time). Whenever I had someone tag along for a little too long I just stood up and pushed a little harder for another 5-10 seconds and knew it made them hurt more trying to keep up. I always think if you’re hurting then they’re probably hurting too. I repeated this a few times until they dropped off or made it to the next chase group with me.
I may not have had the sustainable threshold power to keep up with the main group during the acceleration I was dropped from but I have a huge endurance base from my training and I was able to continue at just below my threshold for at least half an hour or so. I had the main peloton in my site and could see the wheel truck ahead while I was finally in a decent chase group of about 8 riders. We were working our way back up there slowly but surely it felt, then I shifted when I probably should have muscled through it on a steep climb and my chain dropped off my small chainring and I was fucked. I tried like heck to play with the shifter to get it back on without getting off my bike like I usually do which works fine any time but when you really need it to. Of course this was one of those times… I spent the rest of the race on my own with about 11-12 miles to go and thought maybe I should get one of those chain catcher thingies since staying in that group probably would have gotten me about +-5 places higher based on the number of people from the cat 3/4 pack in that group.
All things said, this was a good race, I learned a lot from it and it’s only increased my desire to continue and train as I have been. My training is paying off and regardless of the fact I came in far from the front of the race I did better than I have previously. Tactics have been learned and being committed to memory, next race will be in 2 weeks at the Tour of New Braunfels.
I hope to have my chain catcher well ahead of that time…