"That was the hardest thing I have ever done on a bike"
(sometimes, in retrospect, I realize that it wasn't true)
In this case, true.
I am totally wrecked. I think the official stats are something like 800' of climbing per 10 mile lap. I suspect it was over 1000' however since it felt as hard as our ESG course. When we do ours, two laps is enough. This was six laps (plus one additional ascent of the major hill).
Well, for me, it was 5+1, but for the rest of the team it was 6+1. The reason being that they pulled riders who were so far OTB that they were going to extend the race end by another half hour and they don't want to keep paying the cops, etc.
Not that I totally failed. I knew going into this race that I had zero chance of winning it (I know some of the favorites and know what they are capable of). Therefore, the logical step is to do what I can for our team, which I did. Early in the race, if someone needs to do the chase, it's me, or if someone needs to jump on a possible move, me again. I try to do what I can to protect our guys and help them if they are in trouble.
The first time up the hill I had to basically just focus on the wheel in front of me. It's a ten-minute all-out grinder (like Penn Ave) and I made sure to avoid looking at the power meter, thinking that if I did I would have thought "Oh" "My" "God"
I cheated and peeked once, 370w. That is over 6w/kg. I'm not saying we averaged that, but I will find out what the average was once I get back to Bingo. (Penn Ave record so far is around 4.9)
I hung in there, and even covered a few attacks and stuff like that after ascent #1. The second hill was different, it starts with a 17% nut-kicker and then "levels off" to an "easy" 7-8% or something for a while. This one started to gap the field a bit and I found myself chasing a bit once it got flat at the top. Grygus came around and surfed me back to the pack. Thanks Mike!
Second ascent of the major hill and I am realizing that this course has no rest periods. We are either climbing, doing fast descents, or fighting the 20mph headwinds. I knew it was just a matter of time before things broke up totally. Power was much much lower on the second ascent, something like 270 when I glanced down and I held it fairly well, but a split opened up near the top and I was on the back part. Andy Ross was up in the front driving the chase to catch back on the main field and I knew it was time to go to work.
I shot to the front and did a massive pull, We traded for a bit and came to the one hard corner. We are both excellent descenders and cornerers and basically gapped everyone and got a heck of a lot closer after the 32mph corner (no brakes)
Unfortunately, the field in front surged and went single file. I hit 800w chasing them at this point and we kept fighting for a meter here, a little bit there. This went on for half a lap until I took a massive pull to finally make contact just around the next corner and suddenly...
remember that 17% wall? well, I forgot about it and we hit it just when I had finished taking this beast of a pull. Our group was back in the main field and I went right OTB. My work done, my "race" no longer a race.
however, I still had 4 laps to go and this was going to be tough, what with the wind and all.
I spent a lot of time alone at first, then had a few guys catch me and we would work together, but usually end up busted-up after the major climb or the wall. By the time it said 2-to-go, I was starting to think they might pull me but the guy said "yes, you have two to go". I glared at him and steeled myself for more of this.
The next time up the hill I was having serious doubts about making another lap. Really.
I slotted in front and pulled my companions up the better part of the climb when suddenly they all came around me and sprinted for the line. I knew what was going on. They were banking on it being the last lap and they guessed right. Of course I had no answer for this and drifted across the line for a stunning amazing second-to-last place. I think.
But I did manage to help the team a bit. There was even one point where Jake (our best guy) flatted and I saw him there, stopped, helped him get his chain back on and surfed him back in to whatever group we could find. He wasn't able to get back to the main field though.
So it wasn't really a bad race I guess, although it was physically tougher than Fitchburg or even Killington. This Buffalo RR is a total beast. Take note.
Eli was the best of our men's team with a sixth place or thereabouts.
Marjo made second in the women's field. Our women are really strong this year and I think that's awesome!
So I just finished a gigantic meal and have eyes to, well, sleep for ten hours straight. Crit tomorrow.