Thursday, July 2, 2009

Masters Nats RR

I finished 7th in the Masters Nats 40-44 road race on Tuesday morning in Louisville, KY after a bizarre finish to a crazy hard race. Here's how it went down.

I lined up with 90 something strong masters racers from all over the country which included several ex-pros and some former national champions. Weather was great, 70's with light wind and sunny skies. We raced ten laps of a 5 mile undulating course with numerous curves and turns. I rode near the back for the first 3 laps and had to ride across a couple of small gaps as riders were getting popped on the 2 short climbs near leading up to the start/finish. My strategy was to do nothing for the first half of the race, then look to get into the break later in the race, after the field had been whittled down. That didn't quite work, because a group got away around the midpoint, while I was still conserving energy and hanging near the back. While the field was still big it was really nerve racking to ride towards the front of the group with all of the aggressive riding on the technical course.

I finally dragged myself up to the front with 2 laps to go. The pace of the previous lap had been real hard and there were at least 8 riders away in two groups, but the gap was still under a minute. I tagged onto a 6 man break, that didn't last long, and watched for counters once we came back. I jumped onto the wheel of an LSV rider and we broke free with about 8 miles left in the race. We thought we had a chance to bridge up to the next group, so we worked as hard as we could. We got as close as maybe 10-15 seconds on the last lap, but the problem was that they were chasing the lead group, so basically everyone in front of us was going all out. I was spent by the time we hit the first climb and got dropped by my breakmate and rode the last mile alone, thinking I would finish 10th or 11th. Then things got interesting.

When I was inside of 500 meters from the finish, I looked up and saw riders rounding the corner to start another lap, when they should have been going straight to the finish line. I knew it was the last lap and there was no way I was going any further. People were yelling at me to go straight. I did. After I finished there was all kinds of confusion and I now had no idea what place I was. To add to the confusion there were a few lapped riders mixed in with the breakaway riders ahead of me. People were saying that I was certainly in the top 5. A possible podium result sounded good at the time, even though it sucked for guys who should have beaten me, that made a wrong turn literally 100 meters from the line.

When the dust settled and protests were denied, I was 7th, so I can't complain. I rode well in the final 2 laps, but just didn't have the power to chase down the break ahead of me. The final 19:38 of the race was 344 watts normalized, and the whole 1:54 race was 308 watts normalized.

Rich avoided a pile up in the field sprint and got 19th.

Many thanks to Rich's parents for sharing their wonderful home with us. The time in Lousiville was relaxing and stress free, except for that 2 hours on Tuesday morning.


jmcswain said...

Great job up there and a good write up. The finish was confusing even down here from getting up to the minute Twitter feeds from Sufferest!

Rich W said...

"total chaos" pretty much sums it up ;-)