Lack of sponsorship had put the Dallas races on hold for several years. However my racing partner Dean has been persistent and finally was able to put it together. We thank the Dallas Parks and Recreation Department. I had to cancel my 40k time trial in Beaumont (which I really like) due to conflicting dates, but the Senior Games need to be supported. When I first started with them in 2004 there were games in Killeen, Austin, Kerrville, and San Antonio in addition to Dallas.
I wasn't real thrilled with the weather forecast: 58-62 degrees, SSE wind at 12 mph with higher gusts, cloudy with rain/drizzle scheduled for 3pm. Our race course was the outer road around the Dallas Motor Speedway, five miles per loop. The agenda was the same as last week: 5k time trial, 10k time trial starting a half hour after the 5k, and a 20k road race starting a half hour after the 10k finished. And like last week, I had on shorts and tights, base layer under the skin suit, arm warmers. I did my warm-up lap with my fleece pullover.
There were seven competitors signed up for my age group. Only three of us showed up to race. Well, I'm there to ride hard and let the medals fall where they may. Racing commenced at 9am with the younger guys going first, at thirty second intervals. My time was 9:20. I wandered by the start line about 9:10 only to find there had been a mix-up resulting in no one being at the finish line. They quickly got that sorted out, but that pushed everything back about a half hour. I went back to sit in the car. Who would have thought 60 degrees could be so cold.
For the most part, time trials are pretty boring, in that you pedal has hard as you can until the finish line. Last week I had difficulties when I started in the small chain ring and couldn't get the derailleur to shift to the big ring in a timely fashion. This week I started in the big ring, just a few cogs higher. The wind was significant, especially for me who has real difficulties in it. For this course, we started into the wind, sometimes on my shoulder and a short space from the left side. But about half-way the road turned, putting the wind at our backs. Even up hill (more precisely, an incline) I was moving around 24 mph. Then the downhill I hit 29 mph and should have pushed harder. I think I stopped at the 12 cog and didn't drop to the 11 (after correcting all the troubles with that). Dang! My time of an estimated 8:05 (official times not yet posted) garnered me a silver medal, but more importantly was in the neighborhood of my times from several years ago. Of course, the wind played a big factor.
The wait for the start of the 10k had my body cooling down, as I sat in the car protecting myself from the weather and refueling with Clif bar, Nuun, and pickle juice. About fifteen minutes before my start time, I cycled down to the start line about a quarter-mile away. The wind had picked up and temperature dropped a few degrees. Everyone was shivering. I contemplated what I could do and had a eureka moment: put my rain jacket under the skin suit. Back to the car to implement. That also included taking off the arm warmers and putting them back on over the rain jacket sleeves. Who knew, three layers on my chest in only 58 degrees. But I stayed comfortably warm and not over-heated.
The 10k course consisted of a full loop plus the requisite mile and a third. But the fly in this ointment was the second half of the course. I breezed through the first 5k, although top speed of only 28 mph, and continued on until a slight curve now put me into a severe cross-wind. My deep dish Zipps had me concentrating on keeping a straight line. Another curve to the right and the road turned up (2%). About a half mile into a headwind. It lessened somewhat, to where I would call it flat, but the Garmin vacillated between 1 and 2% to the finish. Again, we have to wait for the official time, but I suspect my gold performance was within a second or two of the silver. In fact, I was berating myself for not pushing harder after turning around at the finish line and seeing how close my competitor was.
I noodled back to the car, now about two miles away. Once there I switched front wheels on the road bike, going with the Zipp 404, and put the TT bike in the car, then myself. Another wait.
The weather looked ominous, but the forecast continued to show 3 pm. Our start time of 1pm should get us done, with medal ceremonies before 3. With seniors, you generally have a natural selection between age groups, so rather than each 5-year category starting separately, this time it was guys under 65 and those over. I think the ladies were all one group. This puts a premium on staying in the peloton as long as possible. I did this successfully last week.
Since we started into the wind, the young guys (65-69) held back some, so I picked a nice broad shoulder to hide behind, and whizzed through the first few miles. The pace picked up with the wind at our backs and I was over 30 mph before hitting the crosswind. Ah, wasn't thinking. The prime position I had on the right side of the road left me without shelter with the crosswind from the right. I immediately realized the problem but wasn't quick enough to correct it. In the blink of an eye, a gap opened and I couldn't get it back. Alone, alone, all, all, alone. Ten yards, twenty yards, fifty yards. Regular readers know I only do road races for the training, even though I occasionally have a decent result. This was good training, as my quads this morning can attest. So I finished last in my age group (but not last overall), but that still got me a bronze medal. I take my medal count tongue-in-cheek, but still, I was faster than all those who don't show up to race. Racing for me is just another form of exercise, another way to stay healthy.
Dean had the podiums ready for the ceremonies. With the weather deteriorating and the wind picking up, they moved all the remaining racers and the medal table into a canopy with sides. No podiums, very few pictures, just announcing the winners and handing them the medals.
Truly, I thought I won the 5k and came in second in the 10k, but it was announced the other way around. In any case, after receiving the bronze I headed for the car at 3 pm. Just as the sprinkles started. A quick potty stop and a three hour drive home in the rain. Three weeks before the next race: Senior Games State Finals in San Antonio. Hopefully I'll find some more form by then.