Ok, I knew I wasn't in race-shape, not this early in the year. And, in truth, I'm more comfortable doing time-trials. Yet I committed myself to doing USAC races this year, to get more fit and faster. This week-end was the first of three, with seven races total.
Walburg has a reputation of being cold and wet and windy. It is also 48 miles in length, two loops of 24. This year it was only windy. I think they had a record turnout. We had 19 in our age group and 33 in the 50+ age group, which unfortunately we were grouped with. These guys hammer from the moment the flag drops.
Not a problem for the first mile, downhill and flat with the wind behind us. Not a problem on the first hill. Hanging in at 40mph going downhill. But as we approached the crest of the second hill I passed a rider on the right. This put me temporarily out of the slipstream of the peloton. They again ramped up the speed and before I could jump in beind, I lost 5 yards. This became 10 yards and all of a sudden, I couldn't go fast enough to catch on.
Three miles into it, and now I had 45 to go by myself. One other straggler carried on about 400 yards ahead. Then, after five miles by myself, four of the guys who had been dropped on the hills came up behind, having formed a pace line. I jumped on behind and within a minute had caught the guy ahead, who also joined our crew. Just in time, in that we now had a right turn directly into the wind.
With six guys alternating, we kept a reasonable speed into the wind and at the next right turn, into the side wind. But the wind took its toll, first dropping two guys and a few miles from the end of the first lap, another. Going up the hill into Walburg, my left hamstring started to grumble and I let the other two go. First lap completed in 1 hour 12 minutes.
But I had another lap to go by myself. Yuck! I kept the rpms up, sacrificing some speed but made it most of the way without problems. With four miles to go, several muscle groups were on the verge of rebellion, so I apportioned labor equally and soft-pedaled in. Second lap at 1 hour 25 minutes. The wind really beat me up.
Sunday was the Pace Bend Park race. 44 miles, seven laps of a six+ mile course. This time we were grouped with the 40+ and 50+. I'll make this short. At the start of the race, my foot couldn't get clipped into the pedal quick enough and I found myself at the back of the pack, them doing a right turn, going downhill, again at top speed. The main pack of younger riders was out of sight in a hurry, but a second group formed just twenty yards ahead. But just like yesterday, I chased and chased up and down three hills before waving them goodby. Besides, my piriformis were not working well at all. I had stretched the hams and quads and calves, but forgot the hip-openers. The wind was even higher than at Walburg, like flags-out-straight strength. I gave it up after the first lap.
Next week should be better, a 7 mile time-trial in the morning, 45 minute criterium in the afternoon, and a 33 mile race on Sunday.