Today was the day. The day I've been riding my bike in 30 or colder temperatures for. The day I have lost sleep over and the day that can proudly say was a success. Today was the first race of the 2010 season.
The race was a 5 lap trip around Perimeter Rd at the Donaldson Center in Greenville, SC. Each lap was about 7 miles long and the total race time ended up being 1:39.00. It was my first time racing in a field of only CAT 4s.
I lined up in about 15th place because I didn't think I wanted to be right on the front but I didn't want to get too far back in the pack. The race started fairly slow and we just kind of relaxed and let our legs loosen up. I was pretty happy about the easy pace for the first lap. The 2nd lap was pretty typical of what I'm used to at Donaldson Center, it was a little bit harder but not too bad.
I was concerned about my place in the pack for the first 3 laps, I was sitting just off the back of the middle of the group. I was in a good position to not have to do a whole lot of work but it was sketchy back there and I didn't want to miss out on any attacks- I just didn't really feel like I was in control. So I decided to do something about it.
Right after we went over the rail road tracks on Perimeter road I jumped hard to make up as many places as I could. I ended up right on the front of the group. I got there right as everybody decided to sit up and stop working; so I just kind of carried my momentum through the couple of guys that were up there and I made a small mistake, I went all the way to the front of the group and I got stuck there. I sat there and didn't really know what I was going to do up there, so I just sat there and pedaled a moderate-comfrotable pace going into the two hills right before the finish of the lap. I waited until the second hill, I was still on the front- I didn't really like being there- so I decided to attack and got a decent gap on the feild and held it until about 300m to the finish of the lap. The pack pulled me back right there and then the counter attack went.
When the group saw who made up the counter attack, two guys- one was a junior- who didn't look very threatening so we just let them go and decided to softpedal for the whole lap. We just had to keep them in sight and reel them in slowly. The break was perfect for us, it made the race so easy and relaxed. We let them stay off the front until the golf course hill on the last lap. The break was absorbed and the group got down to business.
The big attack came on the hill just past 3m's plant at Donaldson Center. Everybody was very very nervous the whole race- the 1st race of the season is like that, it takes people a little while to get used to the pack again- the last part of the race was the absolute sketchiest race I've been involved in. Everyone was on edge and screaming at each other. The impetus really picked up when we got across the railroad tracks and back on to the smooth pavement. The whole feild was jockeying for position and trying to get their team to the front. I was right there in the thick of it and holding a pretty good position.
As we went into the section of the course with the two hills and about 1.5k to go I was in the perfect spot- so I thought. We got up to 400m to go and I was still good, then I stood to sprint with about 300 to go and 2 teams with a good lead out train came around me and I just decided to sit up and ride it out- I knew I wasn't in the money or the points, plus I had beaten Pait, that was pretty much my goal for the day :)
All in all the race went great. I did exactly what I wanted to do. I made an attack which, in a way, decided a lap of the race and it also moved me into the perfect position in the group. My progress in my training for this part of the season is very positive. The race was almost easy. My parents and Caroline came out to watch the race, which gave me something to look forward to every lap. Plus, the weather was amazing and I had loads of fun while I was out there.
The second race of the season is tomorrow, it's a Crit at BMW's test track. That should be fun .
Just a few thank yous:
Pait, thanks for giving me somebody to talk to out there and doing a good bit of work.
Tebbets, thanks for being out there and racing a good race and helping me move through the pack.
Hincapie Sportswear for putting on a great race.
All the CAT 4s I raced with who, while they were a little sketchy, didn't crash during the race.