Once again this year we lucked out with the weather in February. The wind wasn't as stout as last year, but on Saturday morning, for the 5k time trial, it was enough to move us along the point-to-point course. Blue skies and a wind at our backs. I don't know why more people don't sign up to do this venue. The course is great. The 10k course is a simple rectangle, more or less, and for the road races of 20k and 40k, you just do multiple laps.
Saturday morning we started with the 5k time trial. My warm-up consisted of riding the 10k course at a mostly leisurely pace with a few sprints thrown in to get the heart-rate up. My friend and sometimes teammate, Tom Cole, started 30 seconds ahead of me. He finished 31 seconds ahead of me. One second! I did some retrospective on where I could have picked up two seconds, but didn't dwell on it much.
About an hour later we started the 10k time trial. Tom just did the 5k as a warm-up for the 20k road race which started shortly after the finish of the time trial, so I didn't have him as a carrot. Volunteer holders are sometimes an adventure, but we were quite lucky this year, she was very good. Still, ever since the incident several years ago where the holder didn't let go and I almost cramped on the first pedal stroke, I have been starting in the small ring for the first dozen strokes to bring it up to speed and cadence. This time my bike decided I needed to stay in the small ring. I shifted and nothing happened. Multiple times. This wasn't a complete disaster, in that while the road was flat, the wind was in my face for the first mile, so I just dropped down to the small cog (14, not the 12), and kept a good cadence. Once I turned the corner, the bike relented and let me shift up and I settled into a good rhythm.
Even though I felt as though I could have pushed harder, my time was good enough for first place. A slim field, but more people just need to show up. A more difficult test would come Sunday morning in the 40k road race. I don't particularly like road racing, but do it more for the training than anything.
Apparently a lot of folks feel the same way about the 40k, in that only fifteen people showed up to race. The race director just started all the men in one group, and the couple of women in another, just seconds behind. We fell into line at a reasonable pace, since we had the wind in our face. I noticed one woman had already bridged up to the guys. Deb took gold at Nationals (all four of her races) last year and frequently rides with the guys in order to go hard.
Anyhow, once we made the turn and had the wind at our backs, the pace picked up. I had a choice to make, hang with them and risk blowing up, or let them go and proceed at my own pace. There were only three of us in my age group, and both of the other guys are much faster in the finishing sprint. I opted to let them go. As it turned out, my Gruene teammate, Dean, and Deb hooked on with me and the three of us did a great job of rotating the whole route. The main peloton was only about thirty seconds ahead of us and we kept that distance through the entire first lap. On the second lap it had moved out to about forty-five seconds, and the third lap someone called out we were sixty-five seconds back. Not that it mattered to us, we were enjoying ourselves.
The last mile includes several small rollers, and Dean attacked. Deb hooked on, I waved good-by. I finished about ten seconds behind, standing and sprinting by myself, just to see what, if anything, I had left in the tank.
Dean and Deb won their respective gold and I accepted my bronze. I finished ahead of everyone who didn't show up to race (and a few others who did). Besides the three medals, I took away a growing confidence that my legs are on the way back to performing as they did two years ago. Last year was the pits. Next up, the Heads or Tails Time Trial in Beaumont.