Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Racing - 2014 Criterium de Bethel

Well the race was pretty uneventful for me. It was cold, wet, and totally dreary. The old me would have reveled in the conditions but the new old me wasn't quite so keen on doing a repeat.

Ironically my only ever race winning break happened in similar conditions - wet, cold, small field, and a winning break.

I had no idea how I'd be in the race but I prepared for a mentally challenging race.

In the morning I had my normal two egg sandwiches, bought early early in the morning, along with the requisite cup of coffee. It took me a couple hours to eat that. Later I broke into some of the cookies I brought for the bake sale, had a bit of Coke, and called it a day on food. For whatever reason I'd been eating a lot in the prior couple days so I wasn't feeling hungry.

I did my now-normal base layer + rain jacket (for wind protection, not water protection) + LS jersey thing. Because it wasn't that cold I wore knickers instead of tights, plus in the rain I prefer to wear knickers until it's unbearably cold simply because knickers get less heavy when soaking wet.

I did put my phone (Strava) into a ziplock bag, and I encased my feet in plastic bags before I slipped on the booties. With a brimmed cap (to help keep water from dripping into my eyes) and my favorite Canari gloves, I felt fine in terms of temperature and conditions.

Small field lined up.

The dominant Sixcycle team hadn't shown up so the race felt wide open. I knew that shelter would be a major factor for me since I can't make efforts over and over, at least not this year. I also knew that I could sprint at the end so I hoped that I could reach the finish in the points.

I assumed that a break would go because they always do in these kind of tough conditions. My goal was to try and do a good sprint if less than six riders got away.

Gap attack on the second lap.

When the race started the numerically superior (they had three riders) FGX team gapped a rider off the front. Someone chased and the two leaders got a small gap. This happened a second time and I was near the front when the two were within touching distance. I decided to ramp up the pace a bit and make everyone race.

The view when I started to push.

There was only one problem - no one felt like riding. When I pushed a bit no one stayed on my wheel. I think it's partially my history - "Aw, just let him blow himself up" - and partially the cold, damp conditions.

I crested the hill alone, wondering what would happen. Ideally someone strong would bridge and then we could work together for a while. I know everyone things I'd just sit and sprint but honestly, when it comes down to it, I give credit where the credit is due. I've gotten to the finish in other breaks but purposely didn't sprint until it was too late for me to win, simply because I didn't work enough to justify going for the win.

It didn't matter. The theoretical didn't happen. I blew up and returned to the fold.

In the field.

The pace, although not terrible, wasn't kind to me. My effort off the front, as tempered as I thought I'd made it, had put me at the edge of the red zone. The hill put me over every lap, I fought to recover, but the small field offered little shelter and no mercy.

Each lap it seemed someone else took a turn attacking, and the constant push up the hill wreaked havoc on my legs.

After a few more attacks I had that lumpy throat, "I'm blowing up" feeling. I thought of all the stories about the pros going so hard and throwing up and this and that and I realized, you know, it's just one of the races at Bethel and I'm okay with not finishing it.

The field leaves me behind.

I kept going a bit, just to make sure that the field didn't sit up right after I blew up. I watched them hammering along in single file, riding away from me.

No miracles today. The field wouldn't suddenly, spontaneously, decide to go 18 mph for a lap or two. Any rider could see the gaps forming, the single file hurt, and if I had the legs I'd have been pushing. Selection of the fittest in this case; no camouflage from hiding in the field.

It was an FTP kind of day and I failed the test.

I rolled back to the registration area.

Another cold wet day at Bethel.

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