Truthfully, I wasn't looking forward to yesterday's racing. My form is 'way down, and how were the organizers to know that early June would see 5pm temperatures in the high 90's with equally high wind speeds. Whine, whine, whine. Followed by aphorism: it's the same for all the racers. No, it's not! The wind really bullies me more than the other guys.
The course this year was the Texas World Speedway in College Station. We had corners and chicanes and the finishing straight was down pit row. Really, I liked the facility. Marilane accompanied me and suffered through the heat and tedium of sitting around while I warmed up.
Ah, the warm-up. We arrived at 2pm, first race at 5pm. After setting up my trainer, I got on the road bike to take a few laps and get acquainted with the corners, etc. The first thing I found was the headwind at the start would mean a small-chainring gear selection. Normally, I'm in the big chainring the whole race. Well, I got around the course, enjoying the corners, mentally noting where I could shift to a higher gear, leaning and taking corners etc. All too soon I was back at the finish line. A check of my new computer showed 1.7 miles. Hmmm! I guess we are going around twice and be a little over distance. I went around again, a little faster and this time utilized the aerobars. Not bad. The time of 4 minutes and 30 seconds boded poorly for my finish. Stretched, talked with others, and generally let the time pass. Decided to take the tt bike around the course. That was better. It really is a fast bike.
Chris and Alisa brought the grandkids over to watch and visit, but they were a bit late, and the race director a bit early in giving us instructions, so I had very few minutes to sit and chat before having to line up to start. In other races, start times are posted and the racers generally spend the time right before the race in getting warmed up and ready. Not so here. We were lined up and waited.
Having nothing to do while the first fifteen rides went off, we discussed the race course, among other things racing. It was at this time that I found out the 5k was ONE circuit. Ooops! All my pre-race warmups had been on the wrong course. Well, half of it was wrong. That was a shock to the system. Easy enough, just don't ride through the cones. When I see a line of cones, turn (or go) onto some other pavement.
Having been jolted out of my pre-race mentals, I forgot to start the computer. Pook! We started a minute apart, so there wasn't anyone to follow. It wasn't all that bad, except I couldn't set up for the turns as well as I might have and had a few mis-choices of gears. I actually caught and passed one guy, and finished second. Silver is what I expected, since Tom Cole usually takes me in the 5k.
Race over, short warm-down, visited with kids, grandkids. Stretched, did some warm-ups on the trainer. Marilane had taken the opportunity to drive off to find air-conditioning and sustenance. At 6:15, a half-hour before the scheduled start, I grabbed my road bike to again ride the correct course and see if I could improve on my time. Traditionally, my average speed is higher in the 10k. As I reached the gate, the race director began calling us to the line. He had decided to start early so we could finish before the sun went down. Pook! Ding-fu!!
I also had saved some time to change into my skin-suit. No time for that.
We also were starting at 30 second intervals. I had no problem with that. Having raced the course once, I at least had some idea of better gear selection, giving me more speed. A combination of mis-remembering a corner and having additional mph, led me to stay in my aerobars rather than come out of my tuck. This is the first time ever I have over-cooked a corner and ran off the road (about 10 yards) into a field. Fortunately, the dirt was firm and the weeds thin and I was able to stay upright and guide myself back onto the road. It was a small incline, into the wind, and with the loss of momentum, it took a bit to get back up to speed and into my tuck.
The guy in front of me, who I had been gaining on, was long gone. The rest of the lap went well and I conservatively came out of my tuck on several other corners. The second lap had me take the offending corner correctly, keeping my speed. I whistled through the others rather well, but not as well as possible if only I had additional practice on them. As it turned out, my little escapade netted me a bronze medal rather than silver (I'm still not back to form and Mr. Cole is).
There is only a week and a half until Nationals. I have no allusions for medals there. This year is only to experience the atmosphere of being at Nationals. The real goal is Nationals in two years.