Well, this was a complete bust, so I won’t ramble on for too long. Result was a big DNF. First of my short racing career, and it feels like sh!%. In hindsight though, I was completely underprepared… something that gives me much more hope than disappointment. Come next year, I am going to come back, right my wrongs, and do some serious damage.
Stage 1 Road Race: This was a very bazaar stage… flat for a solid 65 miles with a gentle finishing Cat 3 climb to finish. Everyone knew this, and so the first 2 hours were mostly coasting. There was a small break of 5 up the road, never more than 1 minute out, and with over 100 in the field, they were never a threat. By the time the finishing climb came, everyone was rested and twitchy, and the attacks started. I made my run for the line with 2k to go, but was caught at the 500m mark; just too many people in the chase. In the end, I wasn’t prepared to win out of a sprint (mental note: sprint practice!) so I have no regrets here, but it wasn’t to be and I was caught. Finished with the lead group.
Stage 2 Time Trial: Let me give you the perfect formula of how NOT to win a Time Trial. Take Clip-on aerobars, add No TT bike and No disc wheel, then multiply those by a 100+ man field. By my calculations, that’s an automatic loss to begin with. But on top of that, factor in zero practice in areobars at all (mental note: TT practice!), and my first experience racing at altitude in super dry air. 27th, 2:00 back from the top time, ’nuff said.
Stage 3 Crit: A straightforward course, 4 corners and 2 long straights. I was feeling pretty bad going into it… legs were good thanks to those Marc-Pro units, but my lungs were on fire and I was wheezing whenever I took deeper breaths. Not good. I sat in the pack for the first 30min, and I actually picked the perfect time to go off the front with about 10 laps left… immediately opening a solid 20 seconds or so on the field. I was particularly pleased to see a guy bridging up: reinforcements! But then the lungs literally started to go; it felt like trying to breath through a straw, and my partner dropped me shortly thereafter. And he stayed away to win it. Damn it! Finished in the field.
Stage 4 Circuit: At this point, I knew something was wrong. Still wheezing, I tried for one lap on the tough circuit and failed to hang on. The wheezing was bad enough that I went to see the race doctor: acute bronchitis he said… which basically means that, having zero experience in dry, hot, and thin air, my lungs freaked out when I told them to work super hard, and got inflamed. DNF.
So what’s the take from all of this? Lots. The biggest is Number 1: Practice and find time to train at altitude! My body was absolutely shocked by a mere 4,000 ft and a dry, arid climate. If I want to do Gila, or Nevada City, or Cascade in 2012, I can’t get bronchitis, I can’t go in w/o recent experience, and I need to get accustomed to higher altitudes. Period. Number 2: Buy a TT bike and ride it! The position is completely different, and sucked all my power. And Number 3: More short sprint efforts in my training. These are always useful in a race (go figure), whether its jumping off the front, rebounding in a crit, or going for the win. Lots of room to improve, and that’s always a plus.