Oxford Tune Up

So, this race has been rescheduled twice. The first time was because of snow and got cancelled because it was dangerous for everyone involved. the second was cancelled preemptively when snow was forecasted. Everyone has been hoping that this would go off today.

As I watched the weather for the week the conditions were going from good to questionable. When I woke Sunday morning it looked like we were on the edge of a big rainstorm and we would be getting wet for some portion of the day. After last week at Lynchburg I was questioning even going. No sense driving an hour each way to decide at the last minute not to race. But I got up, packed and went anyway.

This season has not been great for me so far and this is the last of the road races I am doing before crit season starts.  Getting to the race I was planning out my strategy.  There was a threat of rain and it was a little cooler than its been.  I decided on my attire and did what I hoped would be a quick drive of the course.  The roads were narrow and in poor repair.  There were some pretty significant potholes in the lane, mostly on the right side but some towards the middle.  Because of the narrow roads I spent about 25 minutes longer driving the course because I got stuck behind one of the groups finishing up.

Getting back to the staging area, I had time to change and get in a quick 15 minute warmup.  This was ok for me because I wanted my energy for the race, not the warmup.  We lined up and it started drizzling.  Not enough rain to make it bad but just enough to make the road a little wet and make you cold while standing there.  Nothing like last weekend.

We started off neutral as normal.  I had lined up so I would be on the yellow line right behind DeSoto.  I wanted to be towards the front because about 3 miles in there was a pretty good decent and then a matching hill on the other side of a creek valley.  This would give me a little buffer when I dropped back as I always do on a climb.  It wasn’t big but I figured I’d think ahead.

I was feeling pretty good at this point.  Nice and limber, well fed and ready to race.  I’m on second wheel behind Brian.  I was trying to channel my previous frustrations into motivation to do better this week.  We hit the decent and shit fell apart.  Coming down the hill I knew we’d be going fast so I was feathering my brakes to have a little bit of a dry surface incase there was a problem.  When I hit about 35mph I got a nasty shimmy in the rear wheel and then the bike got completely squirrelly. I kept it “under control” enough to get out of the peloton and crossed the centerline after checking for traffic.  I heard someone say something but I was trying to quiet the voice in my head screaming “this is going to hurt” and “make sure no one hits you”.  I managed to get the bike to a stop without hitting the pavement… a minor miracle.

The motoref stopped to make sure I was ok and see what happened.  There was a bit of celebrating that I kept the rubber on the road. He mentioned that I lost my bottles on the hill and he kicked them out of the way… I probably wouldn’t have noticed until I was up the road and thirsty.  The last thing he said was “you’re going to need to work like hell to catch up”.  It took me about 10 minutes to find my bottles and stop shaking.  There was enough time to watch the women’s field pass and decide whether I was going to continue or not.

I figured that I was out there and maybe someone else would drop off the back, so I continued on the lap.  Having anger and adrenaline, not to mention a tailwind, I was able to make pretty good time for the next 8 miles or so.  I was actually thinking that it might not be so bad.  Then I turned into the wind and it became very clear that this was going to be another miserable day.  8 more miles directly into the wind eliminated any hope I had of catching up to the stragglers.

I got back to my car, packed up and drove home.  I dropped my bike at Oakley to have it checked out to see if there is a mechanical issue causing the shake.  I noticed it a little earlier in the week coming down Salem, but I wrote it off to bad roads.  Then it was dry and I wasn’t braking.  Today the wet conditions were totally different and it was way worse.  I hope it’s something minor.

This has been a truly disappointing spring.  I’m hoping to get my head straight for crit season.

One thought on “Oxford Tune Up”

  1. Sorry about your ordeal. Glad you weren’t hurt. I did the 4/5 race again, but I had a plan to avoid getting dropped this time. I was stronger than last time and the rolling start helped me get right up front before the first hill you talked about. Then I hung right behind the lead guy on the hill. When I crested the hill, I pulled up right beside him. Then there was this little rise after the top of the hill. That’s where I made my move. Then I led the pack for a mile or so. Finally, 3-4 guys passed me, but they all fell off except the front guy who was trying to make a break for it. So I went after him and caught him. I felt so good so I passed him and led up until just before the first turn. So I was leading for most of the first 7 miles or so. Then I started to get passed. I had used up all my energy. I should have let some others lead for a while. I always seem to go too hard for too long. Then when I get passed I can’t hang on. So I got dropped after the first turn. Then I spent the rest of the way back just by myself until some other stragglers like myself caught up to me and we road as a team the next two laps. But there was no way of catching the pack on after you started to go into the headwind. Just like you said. Well, I was happy that I had executed my plan flawlessly, but it turns out my plan was not that great. Better next time.

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