As I've stated before, Roger Millikan is a course that I really enjoy. It's got a 2 to 3% incline up towards the final corner and then maybe a 1% grade up to the line. It's relatively fast, having only four corners.
On the agenda for today was the cat 4 and 30+ cat 4/5 race.
My goal for this one was to get my legs going early on, ride fairly close to the front and then as is the case with all cat 4 races, get to the front at the end and sprint for what I could get.
About halfway through the 40 minute race a guy from Fast Friday took off up the road. Normally you don't really worry too much about these sorts of guys in a cat 4 race. They pound away for a few laps then eventually blow up. This guy however had been away for something like a lap and hadn't even looked back once. Whenever I looked up the road to him he looked like he wasn't going to come back. So I figured, what the heck, maybe this is a case where he and I can stay away for a while, get a few more to join on, and hold it to the end. So once we turned onto the hill, I jumped away from the field (a big accomplishment for me in itself as getting a gap on the field isn't something I've been able to do a lot lately), and I started to steam up to this guy. The closer I got, the more I started to worry. The guy could see that I was catching him, but even as I was maybe 10 meters back, he didn't slow in the slightest. Once I'd caught him and somewhat recovered behind him, I put in a few pulls. We were definitely pulling away from the field. The problem for me was that I just couldn't hang with this guy. Whenever I looked down at my heart rate monitor my heart rate was over 190, sometimes over 194. My max heart rate is something like 196 or 197 and my threshold heart rate is 183, so I knew that I was going to blow up big time if I kept riding with this guy. After 3 laps or so of suffering with this guy I threw in the towel and dropped back to the field.
Here are a couple of pictures of me enjoying trying to hold on to this guy's wheel (these pictures were taken by John Nuttall, you can visit his site here - http://www.thegrayham.com/:
After a few more laps of recovery I had my heart rate back into a manageable range and was feeling somewhat better. I knew however that the break had burned what matches I had. So I adjusted my goal to simply ensuring that I got my team-mate Brian O'Mara up to the front at the end of the race so that he could sprint for the win. With two or so to go, I had Brian on my wheel and we were headed to the front. By the top of the hill with one to go I had Brian at the front. He pretty much did exactly what he needed to do from there, winning the bunch sprint and taking second (a different guy than the Fast Friday guy had gotten up the road to take the win). Here's Brian out sprinting the field (again courtesy of John Nuttall):
I ended up finishing something like 22nd or 23rd. Again, not bad for a field of 100, but I definitely would have liked to do better.
30+ Cat 4/5:
Again, this was a full field of close to 100. After the really hard effort of the cat 4 race, my goal in this one was to stick to my plan for the cat 4 race. I settled into a comfy spot near the back of the field and gave it 20 or so minutes for my legs to cycle through the lactic acid that remained from the cat 4 race. About half way through I slowly started moving up toward the front. With 4 laps to go there were some really fast guys on the front, who really strung things out. For me, this sort of thing really plays to my strength as it makes life tough for those who aren't as well trained as I am and keeps people from surging from the back. I sat there in 10th for the last 4 laps and sprinted for the finish. I didn't see the final result, but my rough estimate had me finishing something like 15th. As I was sprinting for the line I was really trying to make sure that I got my left leg going as much as I could. This was probably the strongest sprint I've done since I hurt myself. It was definitely satisfying to know that I'd done everything I could have done.
So, things ended up quite well. A team-mate on the podium and some really hard racing. At the end of the 4/5 race I knew that I'd left it all on the course and for where I am with my cycling in 2010, that's all I can ask of myself.