Sunday, March 25, 2012

And we're off! - BRX report

The official start to my racing season has begun. And what better way to do it than with one of my favorite races. Barry-Roubaix, in Middleville, MI. The perfect blend of dirt roads with monster climbs, and roadies vs mountain bikers. This is a great way to test your fitness. Get out the early season race jitters, and see who has been putting in the early winter work. In just a short time, this race has exploded from the grassroots ride your bike and drink beer all day to the real thing. So it is now a "everyone must do event". So with this, it's a really good way to see where you stack up early in the season.

For me, training has been going very well. So coming into the event I was looking for some personal results and data for refinement. In addition, I had some public goals for the race as well. They were to finish top 10 in my age group (35-39) and a stretch goal of top 5.

All the racers lined up at the start in the respective waves and we were off. The neutral roll out this year was anything but. It was fast and everyone was licking their chops trying to be the first one to the dirt. I held my line and settled into a nice pack of guys that contained several of the best riders in the state. Simon Bailey, Jarod Makowski, Dave Messing, Tom Payne, Chris Goddard, and a few others coming and going. the race broke up quick on the first few climbs. It was chaos and confusing, as our wave instantly caught the tail end of wave 2. Guys were not holding their lines. Falling. Panicking. It was all out spandex war. Early on, I got pushed to the outside of the road, and into the soft sandy shoulder. I came to a complete stop going up hill, and then a dude ran over my foot. I had to power out of the sand and try to TT back up to the lead group. By the time I made it back to the leaders, Simon was long gone. But my other favorites were still intact. The pace was hard my HR stayed in the 190s for most of the race. A few guys falling in front of me on the first two track section forced me off the bike, and made me lose contact again. By the time I made it out back onto the gravel, I was in TT mode again trying to bridge the gap. Then Don Cameron came by, so I hopped on the D-train and got pulled back to the group. From here the big hills started and the pace was not letting up. We all went blow for blow between Tom, Jarod, Dave and I. It was silent between us for most of the race, just a few glances into the eyes of each other to try and read how they were doing. We all had straight up poker faces! No one wanted to give an inch. With about 6 miles to go, we were all still together, I knew the course (so I thought) and had my plan for attack in the back pocket. Then we entered the new section of the course. I looked like a mine field. Sand and 12 ft wide puddles around that were 1 foot deep. We also picked up the slower 24 mile racers as well. it was tough to get through. Then from this, to the long lung searing sandy run up. It was cyclocross time! We were all together as we began to trot up the hill. About half way up my right calf began to cramp. OH NO. Not now..... WHY? I tried to fight through it but did not know how much longer the run was going to be. Jarod and Tom were slowly slipping away. Dave was well behind us at the time but closing fast. As I finally neared the top, I looked up and seen Jard remounting his bike. He was off! And now the lead group was growing the gap on my rapidly. On the decent, I heard Dave call my name. Damn it. I pushed on. This new section was taking it toll on me, and I did not have a plan B. Finally on the paved road with 4 miles left in the race and a most all up hill. I could see the group I needed to be with just a head of me. I tired to power through but the cramp was still in my leg and now my left quad was feeling it. I was finally able to get a rhythm, and slowing began to gain the seconds back. No one would work with me to pull them back. And I would never make contact. But knowing that I was with the top 5 group, I new my goal was still in reach and did not give up. I red zoned all the way to the line putting up a new personal best time of 1:51. And securing the 10th place spot in my age group out of 129 others.

Racing with the guys above was an awesome experience, one I will never forget. It is really what racing should be all about, and made me push to my limits. I can't wait to line up with you fellas again. You all had great races! So congrats and good luck this season.

Next stop will be Paris-Ancaster. I can't wait. This will be my first time at this event.

In closing, it was great to see the Rouge Racing Project Kentucky boys! Sorry for the early night. We will make it up at the USGP in a few months. And Great job to all the TSB guys. Kevin, Brad, Jason, Curt, Todd, and Jim for coming out. Putting up great results, and representing the red, black and white!