Well the San Diego Omnium is over. I went into this with what I felt were realistic expectations and a positive attitude. I figured I could do top 10 in the time trial, hang on for as long as possible in the road race and possibly pick up a point or two, and then try for some of the primes and a top 10 in the crit.
For those not familiar with this race, the TT is 2 laps of Fiesta Island, pretty much flat as a pancake. The total mileage is something like 8 miles.
I got 14th (3 omnium points), not anything too bad or too good. I did ride the same time (20 minutes) that I did back before I hurt myself, which was somewhat encouraging. It was a windy day out there, which doesn't help the power challenged like me either. What was most amazing was some of the times that people put up. The guy who won in category 4 put up a time that would have been second in the pro race. While I didn't have my speedometer working on the day, I'm sure I rarely broke 30 miles and hour when the wind was in my favor. Some of these guys were averaging close to 29 mph for the entire time trial.
This race is two, 22 mile laps of one of the toughest stretches of road you'll ever race on (at least in San Diego). The first 11 miles of each lap is pretty much downhill. The first time I ever rode this course, I at first was enjoying the descent. Then it dawned on me that I'd better really enjoy the descent because all those hills were going to be climbed on the way back up to the finish. The last 11 miles of each lap are pretty much uphill the whole way, something like 1800 feet of climbing I believe. What's worse, you're almost always climbing into a strong headwind.
While I knew that the road race was going to be a real challenge for me, I had hoped that I'd be able to at least hold on to the group through the first lap. Doing so would have given me the chance to at least help my team-mates out a bit on the descent/rollers of lap 2, which it turned out would have been very valuable as our climber did get dropped on the second lap descent. If I were there I could have ensured that this didn't happen. I knew for sure that once we started the climbing of lap 2, the climbers were going to hammer it and leave me in their dust. From there I was expecting to gut it out to the finish.
The reality however was that I got dropped near the top of the first big climb of the first lap. As we were going up the climb I was looking down at my power meter and seeing numbers like 340 or 350 watts. I know for sure that I can't hold that sort of power up 11 miles of climbing, so I wasn't too surprised when I got popped off the back. With a giant headwind and no one around me to work with, there was going to be no catching back on to the main field. It became me vs. myself for the rest of the first lap.
When I got to the end of the first lap, a couple guys had caught up to me, so we started to work together. As we worked our way down the descent we caught one more guy. Eventually when we got to the rollers near the bottom of the descent, we were into the sort of riding that I can do really well, so I hammered it for a few miles. At that point me and another guy had managed to pull away from the rest of our small group, so we both worked together to keep our gap to the finish. In the end I finished 25th.
It did make me proud to know that I rode this race as hard as I could possibly ride it. While it sucks to not finish with the group, this race and the 2 laps of the course I did last Saturday showed me point blank that I'm just not physically able to ride at this level any more. When you can't pull up well with your foot, it's like you're racing with a 25 pound weight straped to your back.
As much as I enjoy criteriums, the Huennekens course is one that I don't have much time for. With only one real corner, the race is pretty much a 40 minute drag race. The points in this race are awarded both at the finish and via two point primes during the race. So if you fancy yourself as a GC guy, it's really important to be in a good spot to go for these key primes. Back when I finished 3rd overall in cat 5 a couple years ago, I was able to get some points on both the primes and finish top 5 in the race, which helped me move up from 4th to 3rd on GC.
Our team went into this race with one of our guys, Max, in 5th place, so we wanted to make sure we could get him to the front for the point primes and the finish. I had him at the front for the first point prime, but I'm not sure that he ended up getting anything. I nearly had one of the $25 primes, but my lack of speed once again foiled me. I got a good jump on the field and was out front coming to the line, but someone managed to sprint up and catch me. For the finish we had a 5 man train going with a lap to go. I was there in 4th position working as hard as I could, but again it didn't really come together for Max. In the end another of our guys got second, so we got something positive out of it.
Revisiting my goals for the race; I came close to a top 10 in the TT, didn't hold on too long in the road race, and came close to a prime, while worked hard for the team in the criterium.
The bottom line for me in all of this is that I can't keep putting all the hours I put into training to race if I simply can't physically do it. Sure, I could continue to show up at races each week and finish in the top 20. I'm not sure what the point would be however. Instead, I'm going to re-purpose my training time and focus much more on getting my left leg back to 100%. Sad news for all my groupies I know, but that's how it's going to be until I feel like I'm 100% or at least much, much closer.
I will say that my ability to move my toes and foot is definitely getting better. Until the last month or so I haven't felt like doing a lot of dorsi-flexion specific exercise would be of any benefit because if my nerve can't fire the muscles, what would the point. I have been using my electrostimulator a fair bit, that's definitely helped get the muscles at the top of my shin to come back a bit. Hopefully now is the time when finding some good strength building exercises will be of real benefit.