Monday, March 30, 2015


     Usually when I go two out of three, it is two first-place finishes and a second.  But then, that usually refers to short time trials.  It also refers to opponents who are in the 70+ age category.  I had no illusions when I signed up for Hammerfest (out in west Texas, Fort Davis to be precise).  The category was 60+ and all of the guys were ten to twelve years younger than me, plus it was all road racing.  But, my friend, Tom Cole, had been telling me about it for several years so I took the opportunity to get in a week-end of hard training.
     The agenda consisted of a fourteen-mile hill climb, which actually was ten miles of flat-ish riding with a few bumps before the steeper part (the younger groups had an additional two miles of really tough climbing) on Saturday morning and an eighteen mile race Saturday afternoon.  The afternoon race was flat for two and a half miles, then a right turn and a steady low-grade (2-4%) climb for the next fourteen and a half.  Or maybe an extra mile.  My computer only registered seventeen miles.  The Sunday morning ride was a forty-nine mile loop with an abundance of climbing.
     Since this is a cycling blog, I'll only mention we went to Marfa and Alpine on successive evenings, for a quick look and dinner (Paisano Hotel and Reata Restaurant, both very nice and accommodating my plant-based diet).
     Saturday morning was chilly.  I should be thankful for 47 degrees, it was 32 Friday morning.  But this is west Texas so we started at 47 and ended at 77 degrees an hour and a half later.  I don't have accurate stats, in that half-way through the computer turned itself off and it looks like I missed over a mile before catching it.  Anyhow, I stayed with the group for thirteen minutes before they lost me on one of the bumps.  They were doing team tactics from the start, with multiple accelerations and slowings, and that last one got me.  I settled into a rhythm and enjoyed the scenery until getting to the heavy climbing, when I concentrated more on just getting up the road.  My average speed was 8 mph, but that doesn't include the faster, missed portion.  To use a cycling term, my legs felt "blocked."  Absolutely little push in them.  Uphill, against the wind.  It wasn't fun.
     We lunched at the surprisingly very nice deli, and I rested for the afternoon race.  This time we had strong wind that would be in our face for about fifteen miles.  That sort of worked in my favor, in that I could tuck in behind some big bodies and they couldn't make a really strong break because of the wind.  They once again did some accelerations but not as strong or long as in the morning.  On one acceleration I got caught out and immediately dropped.  At least I stayed with them for six miles.  
Once on my own, cursing the wind, I settled into an 80 rpm cadence.  I dropped my water bottle and had to stop.  That cost me catching a second dropped rider with whom I had hoped to share wind-breaking duties.  It was only about thirty seconds, but I couldn't go any faster.  Again, my legs were less than optimum.  Overall, I averaged 12.5 mph, but once I lost the peloton it was more like 10.
     Given the profile of the Sunday race, its length, the high wind, and being beaten up by the wind and hills on Saturday, I decided to eschew riding on Sunday, and we drove home instead.  I have a few weeks before State time trials to get my act together.  We will see how that goes.

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