Race 7 – Lynchburg

The weather forecast for today varied all week.  When I started looking last weekend, it looked like we might avoid rain.  As the week progressed there was to be a greater chance of rain.  This morning it even looked bad.  Driving up, I was actually hoping for wet conditions to keep the speed to a manageable level; the cat5 group this year has been pretty fast.  There are a lot of young, fit riders and a number of them are trying to get enough races to cat-up.  The last ice age ensured that we would have a flat course, which means faster, wet would have mitigated

It ended up staying pretty dry.  When I started my warm up, the roads were pretty wet, but dried out fairly substantially by the time we started.  It was overcast and a little windy, but not out of hand.  So much for moderating the speed.  So we started off.  Grant (cat4) and Tom (cat5) were there as well.  Tom and I lined up at the front of the pack and hoped for the best.  We both managed to stay near the front of the peloton (not pulling, but back about 5 spots) for the first 30 minutes.  The lack of hills definitely helped me with that.  After that, I was losing steam.  Maintaining the young guys pace was wearing me out.  I ended up dropping off the back with about 10 other guys (Tom included) shortly after that.  Tom was ahead of me and seemed to have a bit more in the tank than I did.

After a brief breather, I picked the pace up and managed to hook up with a guy from Team Dayton and a guy from Bishops.  The Bishops guy was doing a lot of long, strong pulls.  Team Dayton was comfortable sitting on his wheel and then me on his.  At this point I knew it was going to be bad if we didn’t start sharing the work.  This wouldn’t hold out forever.  I moved up and took a pull and tried to get the group of us working together and sharing the load.  Luckily, GT has provided the Thursday night group with some pretty good skills and I was able to get people actually pulling, taking turns and rotating properly.  We caught up to another two guys (another Dayton and Bishops pair) and we were able to get a good rotation going.  I hadn’t done much work in an echelon (training opportunity) so they showed me the basics and we got it together.  We were able to maintain quite a pace.

About this time we saw Tom and an unattached rider turning into the headwind stretch.  As we turned onto the road, the Cat 1-2-3 group were passing.  We were neutralized until they passed and we picked it back up.  We passed Tom and companion.  They thought we were with the 1-2-3s and let us pass; apparently we looked that good 🙂  It wasn’t long before they were right with us.  Now we had 8 of us.  The biggest problem we had were the guys in the group that hadn’t done a rotating line.  Especially the unattached guy; he was letting big gaps open.  The other problem was the guys that would take a really long pull; I’m not complaining but we needed everyone relatively fresh for the headwind portions.  There was a lot of chatter to get people to actually rotate.

On the last lap we caught up with another Dayton and Bishops pair.  They were still fairly fresh but had fallen off the main group.  We pulled to catch up and turned onto the tailwind portion.  Apparently that’s where we lost most of the group.  It was the two new, fresh guys, mr unattached and I.  I thought the rest were with us but I guess the new guys picked up the pace just enough that we gapped away.  They didn’t seem real interested in working together.  They were fine drafting off of mr unattached, but surged when they were pulling.  This was definitely intentional. We managed to stick together for the most part right up until the last 1km, into the wind.  I didn’t have much left in the tank and they pulled away.

Overall, this was my favorite race. I was with a group for almost the entire race, I managed to pull a grouppo together and get it functioning properly, and if I had a little more left at the end there definitely would have been a sprint opportunity.  All told, not a bad day.  It only sprinkled for a few minutes during the race and the overcast made sure there was no sunburn.  And the cherry on top was I got to have a wonderful birthday dinner with my family.

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