The ride from my office (Old Town) to PIR (7mi) was a good warmup.
The weather behaved itself. No rain, maybe 55°. We had mostly sun and a pretty stiff wind out of the W/SW (i.e. on start/finish of each lap). I wore my wool undershirt and arm warmers, there were times when it felt hot but when the sun set I was glad for it. The start and finish were pretty much into the teeth of the wind. Cat 4/5 rode 14 laps (26.6mi), clockwise. I rode PIR Tuesdays a few times six or seven years ago and my memories are of finish line sprints from the west (counterclockwise), so maybe they reverse direction every season?
The start was comically leisurely. The pace didn’t rise above “club ride” level for the first 2 or 3 laps. The field thinned a little on the corners but bunched back up again on the straights, a theme for the whole evening. Those opening laps were really whippy throughout the peloton. Brake, jump, brake, jump. The pace smoothed out by lap 4 when the heat turned up a little. I don’t have a cyclometer so I can’t report the speed on any particular lap, but I called Jenny about 5 minutes after the finish at 8:00, so we did 26.6mi/1.25hr or about 21.3mph altogether.
The field was mannerly but disorganized. I never pulled the front but then most riders didn’t (including the winner AFAICR). And the pack was so sloppy everyone got a lot of exposure, especially setting up for and recovering from corners.
We had a bell in lap 8 or so but I wasn’t in the running so I missed the fun.
We were neutralized by the 1/2/3s around lap 10, which seemed to last forever. One guy joked — almost half a lap after the last 1/2/3 passed us: “are we still neutralized?”
The whole race I shepherded my strength. I kept expecting something to develop, especially with one of the teams. Four or five guys with a little discipline could’ve opened a truly demoralizing gap (especially into the wind) at any point. It wouldn’t have required extra fitness just extra strategy. So I kept saving my energy for this really obvious break to form but it never did. Maybe everyone else had the same thought? All the possible breakaway efforts I saw — from the middle of the pack — seemed to form behind me. There was at least 1 promising breakaway but inexplicably they either dropped back or the rest of the group bridged the gap with no effort. There may have been others but I never saw them from the middle of the pack. My N00B strategy was to pick a few riders ahead of me and try to hold them. One of these guys turned out to be the winner so it shouldve been a good strategy except for my lack of planning at the end.
The last lap ended with a battle royale straight into the wind. The sprint started really late IMO, at or after the final turn. When I recapped for Jenny she suggested I could’ve positioned myself before the turn and finished like 10 places higher. She’s right. I’m a lousy sprinter so I need to work harder for position. Nonetheless, I managed to pass more than be passed, maybe because I have a small profile so the wind was to my advantage. I finished with a lot in the tank and felt like I could’ve pushed at least 4 or 5 places in that sprint regardless of position. I finished 24 of 36 overall, not a bragging result but much better than I did 7 years ago.
As a noncompetitive person by nature this event was just right, funwise. It felt like no one was really burning to win, and there was plenty of conversation. No one was a jerk about holding lines or lapping tires although a few guys got (justly) snippy about all the braking. There was very little shouldering and I never once got an elbow. But even for me there were moments where I was thinking, “wait a minute, isn’t this a race?”
This was fun. I hope to do it again but it makes for a long day for Jenny. I didn’t get home until 9:30. I might race Tuesday next week, it has an earlier start (yay!) and is a much shorter race (boo!) so I could potentially be home for bedtime.
- I need to work forward in the last mile or so before the final sprint.
- Feed before the race. 75 min is not long enough (IMO) to justify carrying nosh on my bike, but I completely forgot to eat or drink after lunch, and didn’t bring anything with me. So I started the race hungry and thirsty. I was feeling bonk-y around lap 12, and with the sleepy pace my attention drifted. I overlapped tires once at that point.
- My legs and lungs were more than up to this effort but my hands/back/ass weren’t. This is surprising as my usual riding habit is a solo epic with plenty of dirt roads and I usually have few complaints in that dept. My hands went numb by lap 12 and my upper back is killing me. I bruised my butt on the final sprint which made for a looooong ride home. I always want to race in a tuck so maybe I need to vary my position more.
- It’s not often I feel like my Vanilla is one of the grottiest bikes in a pack. But at 7 years old it feels kind of out of date, especially the group. Between that, my unshaved legs, and my sales bin kit I felt like a Fred.
- I was really glad for my 25T cog. I spent the whole race in my big ring but I had plenty of range in back. I could spin faster than the guys around me through all the speed whips. Guys with smaller cassettes were up and down on their chainrings and it caused them some trouble.