You never know what you are going to get in April in southwest Ohio. I rode this race two years ago and it was over 90f with a strong wind from the West. This year’s running was in the 50s with a moderate wind from the East. It keeps it fresh in some ways.
I’ve been training since October for this race season. Last year was a tough one for me: I had knee surgery in November 2011 and lost most of the winter training time, plus I had just moved up to cat4. My results in the races I did were less than stellar but I was ready for it. My goal this year was to get more into my training and be ready for the season.
Getting to the course early to get a proper warm up in was important to me. I had breakfast with the family and got going. When I got there I drove the course to check on road conditions and it looked ok except for some areas where it was patched, and a couple of spots where it wasn’t. One corner was particularly bad because it was narrow and the inside track was really rough.
I met up with Chris, Tim and Chuck who were racing early. Saw them off and then started my pre-race prep. I had my meals planned out for the day so I wasn’t going to run out of steam. Had my snack while I was pinning my number on. There was a lot of thought that went into what I was wearing. The temperature range was hard to gauge because of the time of the race. If you were standing still it was pretty cold. It was about 10f cooler than when I’d be racing and I expected a change in temperature because it was the middle of the day. Do I risk being too warm or not warm enough. I opted for the windvest, and arm/knee warmers.
Got out on the course and did a lap to see if I missed anything on my drive recon. I ran into the aftermath of one wreck from the 5s (I think). One of the guys was pretty beatup but was ok. They already had the sweep car coming for them so I kept going. I made a mental note about the location to make sure to watch out for the group there.
I got back, switched my bottles and got ready to line up. It was fun to be back in a race environment. I got lined up and realized I still had my saddle bag on so I dropped that back at the car and got back to the group. I was a little further back but it wasn’t too bad. The field was 50. With 6 laps that wouldn’t be a limiting factor.
We got off and left the school and took the right turn onto the first straight away. Two years ago this was straight into a headwind. That was the hardest stretch of the course. This year it was really fast. Everyone was jockeying for position pretty early on. It seemed like everyone was going to force their way into a space that wasn’t nearly big enough for their bike. I’m thinking, hey if you want it that bad I’ll let you in but don’t hit my wheel in the process. We hit the first rise and the next corner which takes you into a wooded part of the course. The jockeying slowed down a little bit and I was hanging with the group.
There were two quick left then right turns and then a slight downhill straight stretch. We hit the end of the wooded stretch, turned right onto the long straight away that takes you over I71 the first time. This year it was straight into the wind. The group actually accelerated into it. At this point any gap caused a problem. I held for a little over a mile and three of us dropped off the back. The pack slowly pulled away and I knew I was in trouble when the motoref passed us. That was definitely a confidence blow.
Next thing I know I’m all alone out on the course. The other two guys stopped and turned around to go back; which I thought was odd since it was the same distance or less back to the start going forward. As normal, the race turned into an individual TT for me. I considered stopping after the first lap but remembered what I have been telling my kids about there activities. “Its not important whether you win or you lose. The important part is trying as hard as you can and giving your best.” I was seriously reconsidering that advice for the next 2 hours while I rode solo and got passed by the mens 1/2/3, mens 3, womens 1/2/3, mens 4 (my field) and the mens 1/2/3 again. But you need to practice what you preach and I’m stubborn enough to do it.
In previous years, I would run into guys that had dropped off the pack and could start working with someone. That never happened. When the results were published I found out why. Of the 50 starting racers, 37 finished and 13 dropped out. I finished 37th. I was a lap behind the pack finish.
Frankly, this was my disappointing race ever. My finishes my first year were generally in the middle third. My finishes the second year were bad but never last, and I could rationalize it because I hadn’t been working hard because of injury. This year I was doing my training “right” as possible given the work and family commitments and my first race was my worst ever, by a lot.