Written over a month ago but just getting around to posting.
Penn State Race Recap
With most of the team bailing for the weekend we didn’t do a team time trial, but the tradeoff was that we got an extra hour of sleep for Black Mo. On the car ride up I was nervous for the first time before a race because of the weather conditions. The D’s race started out with a winding fast descent that was made worse with damp roads from rain the night before and dense fog. Fortunately the group made it down crash free even though there were some very narrowly avoided disasters and a lot of people yelling slowing. We hit a series of mini climbs where the field started to break up. After some more rolling, the real climbing started. I started out relatively easy on myself and stayed in the middle of the now strung out pack. We were hitting some dense fog so I didn’t know who or what was in front or behind of me. After some comfortable climbing I ran into a group of 5 riders who were tiring. I decided to stand up for the first time in the race and attack, which propelled me past the group of 5 and onto my further quest of finding the lead pace car. However after the 2 minute hammer attack I put out, I need to shift into something low to spin the legs and catch up on my breathing. When I shifted into my biggest gear on the cassette my front derailleur greeted me with some rubbing noises. I quickly shifted the big ring up and then back down to the small ring to see if that would solve the problem but the grinding kept going. The chain then started jumping around from my biggest down to my 3rd biggest on the cassette and then back up again. I spent the next 5 minutes or so not even thinking about the race but just staring at my cassette and deuraillers. I gave up and shifted back into the 3rd biggest gear on my 9 speed cassette, and figured I could have lost use of my deuraillers or worse. I upgraded my pace to a little bit faster than my pre attack easy pace and hoped that some people from the lead group would tire and fall off. Finally towards the end of Black Mo in the fog I spotted 7 riders but no lead car. I started getting a sinking feeling because my plan to take it easy in the back of the field and then do a Lance Armstrong Alpe D’Huez style attack to the finish at the end wasn’t going to happen because I let the lead group get too far away. I did another 2 minute stand up hammer attack and sprinted past the 7 rider pack. However after we hit the top of Black Mo where it was flat, after a Mile or so the 7 riders caught me. However, me and a Bucknell rider from the pack were able to do rotating pulls and drop the 6 other riders. On the final descent to the finish I had no clue where the suicidal 90 degree left turn was. I braked heavily several times thinking that it was going to appear out of no-where since there was still fog that made visibility low and wet roads. When I finally saw it the 6 riders I dropped had caught us. I was in first around the turn but the other riders put in some monster sprinting. I got boxed in on the sprint only to make a risky maneuver to get myself out and started pounding it out to the finish line. However I thought I attacked at the right moment only to realize 5 seconds later that the cameras were 150 feet back where I started my final sprint. I got second on the group sprint but would have so gotten first if I knew where the right finish line was. I got 12th overall, but I realized I made a huge mistake when I was ready for a second lap and everyone else was huffing and puffing with a maxed out heart rate. On my first climbers specialist road race I was kind of disappointed I didn’t push myself more and instead treated it like a big flat training ride, or get out of the saddle other than my 2 attacks and the sprint.
On another note,
Staying at Aaron and Jen’s house really spoiled me. The last two races we just crashed on our host’s floor in sleeping bags, but I instead slept on a queen sized futon by myself, ate food other than bars all weekend, and got to use a very nice toilet rather than race day porta potties. Jen played an April fool’s joke which involved Aaron getting wet, but I had to leave for my race before I could witness it.