The previous 2 years I have done cat 3 but this year I raced in the Mens Master's A race which includes categories 1 thru 4. When your a cat 3 it is a toss up on which group to race with. You can ride with Masters A or your Category. Matt O'Donnell signed up for the Master's A so I thought I would give it a shot too.
In the time trial, I was just looking to impove my time. I am riding better this year but I didn't think I could improve 2 minutes to crack the top 10 riders. The goal was simple - ride hard ride fast for 2.5 miles uphill. Last year, a lot of other riders passed me. Talk about de-motivating. This year was different..I didnt catch my 30sec guy but didn't get passed either. Looking at the TT results I was close the slowest time of all the riders. Bummer! On the bright side my time was ~:45sec faster.
The road race I faired better. Like the previous years, the first time I hit "the wall" I didn't have the strength to stay with the leaders. This "wall" is a stretch of road on a 15% grade and I'm guessing about 400meters in length. It is like a huge kidney punch. It can knock you to your knees all by itself or soften you up for the next hill to take you down. Luckily I was not the only one that fell off the lead group. Initially there were 3 riders with me but the group grew in size to about 10 riders. Including Matt O'Donnell from team Kaos. This was the chase group. I felt like one of the stronger riders with this group. I tried several times to go with a break or get one going. I couldn't get away. Sometimes, I got on the front to do some long hard pulls. The group stayed right behind me. Matt told me to get off the front because I was giving the rest a free ride.
With 5k to go there were a couple attempts to break away to the finish. They were brought back. The action started a good 1k to go with the finish visible in the distance. I was on the front just keeping tempo and waiting. If someone attacked, I rode hard to get on his wheel. Then I would grab a quick rest in the slipstream. After a couple more short lived attacks came a stong effort from a OKC rider. He was on the other side of the road. It was so strong and close to the finish... I thought this is the one to get a good result from the bunch sprint. Inside the finish line barracades (barracades - thats so pro), someone else got a good jump. There was no way I could catch him. I resigned myself to second. Then another guy edged me out for second so I got 3rd. I 'll take it. Note: Even though we were the chase group, we finished the road race faster than the lead group of Cat 3s.
The crit was a hard battle too. I was looking to hang on to the group. The one obstacle to that was a short punchy hill. The finish line was right on top of this hill. The rest of the course was mostly downhill with a slightly uphill section leading to the finish line hill. The game plan was work hard on the hill to stay with the group and recover as much as possible the rest of the course. The first 10minutes were torture. I was still in the group but remember hearing 23minutes to go. 23minute?? I thought that I wasn't going to survive this. I don't know when but they switched from time to counting down the laps to go. In my mental state, 6 laps to go was easier to swallow. Down to 2 laps and having a hard time staying with the group. I was thinking to myself - "come on you can do anything for 5 minutes, sometimes twice" The speed was much higher now. Just one more hill to survive then I would be with the group on the final lap. I did it!!! I was already happy with myself. Then I heard Jordan Ross yell for me to move up. It was the perfect time for me to do it too. On the downhill section, there was a gap growing just behind the top 5 riders. I powered to make that gap before the left hand turn at the bottom. The group took the two bottom turns into the slight uphill section. I was able to get a good draft before the final climb. I climbed that hill on shear adrenaline and finished the crit 11th. I am good with that too!!