Pretty wild that it has been almost a month since I last pecked on this ragline.
October has really flown by. The first two weeks were spent in preparation for the Texas State Road Race, held in Killeen, TX. I had hopes that the course may offer a bit of advantage with more climbing than typical for a TX race, and this was hyped as such.
So I prepared, as I do. Some pseudo-serious training, mainly involving throwing myself at what climbs could be utilized with the rapidly shortening daylight after work, and pushing the amount of time spent in those heart rate zones where the body starts to question what the hell you are trying to accomplish.
The forecast of the race was looking good, with some sun and cooler than average but not cold temps. As could be predicted now with the benefit of hindsight, race day dawned with a light drizzle in areas, no sun for sure, and chilly temps.
The course was on the Fort Hood military base, which provided a closed road. This was welcomed with the field approaching 100.
I arrived, registered, got dressed, got cold, checked the bike, headed to the start. We started under dismal gray skies with a few sprinkles. The roads were dry which was a good thing of course. Immediately I found my computer was not registering speed. I worked on adjusting the sensor without success, eventually giving up. This was a bit of a worry as I would now not be able to mark the mileage and determine where key points would be on the second lap of the ~33 mile course. So it goes.
We raced, hit the climbs which, while definitely testing, were nothing really termendous. Certainly not going to shatter the field on the first lap, but probably going to shake things up on the second as legs became tired. I sat in for the first half and moved up after we went through the start finish, as one of the bigger climbs was only about 4 or 5 miles into the loop. I moved up, took a comfortable place near the front and things started to get hot. The first big climb was really a series of two, kind of a long stair step, with the initial step being shorter and steeper. As predicted, the strong guys hit the gas on the climb, just enough to try and put the hurt on those less adept at this type of terrain. It began to work and after a few miles of varying degrees on incline, there were certainly fewer riders inthe main field. We descended from our elevation gain and promptly ground to a halt on a long straight flat stretch. Seems the Pro/1 field had experienced a pretty serious crash. Several people limped around and at least one was loaded into an ambulance. Our race was neutralized for ~15 minutes. Long enough for dropped riders to rejoin, and long enough for the north breeze to cool us down. No complaints from me though, better than being in an ambulance because of a bloody bike race.
We restarted and proceded, en masse for the remainder of the race. With everyone well rested it was pretty much a foregone conclusion the race was going to end in a big sprint. Not enough challenging terrain left to break things up, not enough mileage to have a chance and a breakaway being left go...wonderful.
Not being a sprinter, I decided to try and keep up front in the event something may go, which it did not. The last big climb did split the field and I got a good scare when I couldn't get through a slower group and watched a lead group of about 20 begin to pull away. I made it through and busted my ass to bridge up, only to have the pace drop and the field come together. Oh well. We approached the finish, the field accelerated, some guys went down...the usual. My goal at this point is to make it through, skin and bones intact. I kept in decent position and made a good guess that the field would shift to the right side of the road as last ditch attacks went, which would leave the left (and leeward) side more open. This happened, I moved up some, scrambled around people as they popped, all the while ready to pull the plug and sit up to avoid the dreaded sprint finish crash. I chose well, avoided the crashes and cruised through in the low teens. Out of the money, in the points (which is worth...basically nothing) and most importantly, flesh safely sealed.
I later found out the last 8 or so miles were riddled with small crashes as the riders jockeyed for position for the finish, muscles fatigued and judgements became clouded. This made me all the more satisfied with what I would have considered the ultimate let down finish going into this race.
It was about this time I started really noticing the sore spot in my jaw, a dark harbinger of the hellish week to come.