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Race Report: Notes from the back...(3 posts)

Race Report: Notes from the back...TFerguson
Jul 14, 2003 3:38 AM
Race Report: Four Bridges of Elgin Road Race, Elgin, IL 7/6/03. A 5.5 mile lap of neighborhood streets with a challenging hill.

Last summer I road in 4 street races – 1 short road race and 3 criteriums. I was 51, had only been riding for a couple of years and had not been in any physical sports since Little League baseball. My hands would shake uncontrollably before and after each race – before from fear and after from exhaustion. I raced in the lowest/oldest Citizen/Cat5 category in each race and was dropped in or before the first corner every time. I finished two, was cut once and quit the forth.

I had found my calling.

I bought one of Friel's books and started training to be a racer. The first thing Friel requires is to establish your goals. You start with your long-term goals and work your way down to today's goal. I wrote down three interim 1-year goals. The first of these was to finish in the top 20 in the Four Bridges of Elgin, Citizen 30+ road race.

Today is that day. I complete my first goal or I don't.

We line up at 11:30 with thunderstorms threatening. It's only one lap this year – 5.5 miles. There isn't much time to worry about sitting in or to make up any lost ground. You're either at the front or out of it.

I'm on the third row at the starting line. The whistle blows and we're off. I've practiced hundreds times – one strong stroke with the right foot, take the time to be certain the left foot clips in on the first try and pedal hard. About 250 yards at a slight down hill and then a right 180. I hug the inside and come out about 10th. 250 yards back up the rise and a left 90 onto a ¾ mile flat straight. I'm on the outside of the corner this time and loose a little ground but the pack slows drastically with nobody wanting to pull. I look up ahead and am totally amazed. There are two guys off the front – one at about 40 yards and one at about 20. The second guy is on a mountain bike!?!? I can't let this happen so I scoot up the right side hugging the cones and then pull the pack up him. He's got knobbies! Is drafting an mtb any better than being attacked by one? Anyway, there's an attack up the left side and about 10 of us are off the front without any mountain bikes.

The next mile and a half is a series of corners as we follow a southwest flowing river on roads that all run north and south. I'm hanging on to the back third of the breakaway trying to find a wheel to follow that doesn't slow so much in the corners. Then we hit a half-mile down hill and I give a few pedal strokes, tuck and rest. Being on high side of my optimum weight, I easily coast along the left side of the bunch up to the front. I drop into my little ring, break as late as I dare, pedal hard around the 90-degree right-hander and start up Trout Park Blvd., a 65-foot climb in 950 feet with a very steep center section. Remember, this is northeast Illinois and we don't get much practice at this. For the first part of the hill, I'm in the lead just motoring up in about a 39-14 when wham – it gets steep fast. I'm just standing on the pedals going nowhere and it's too late to shift. Later I would realize that all I had to do was turn crossways to the hill, shift, turn back and get going. But right now all I can think about is how embarrassing it will be if this bike stops and I have to get off and run up this hill in these road shoes! I'm standing, pulling up and pushing down with all of my strength. Each pedal stroke seems an eternity as it inches it's way down. Some riders go by me and I find myself going back and forth on the road tuning it into switchbacks so that I can keep enough speed to not fall over. More go by. I finally make it off the steepest section and start to speed up but the now smaller lead group is gone. Another small group catches me and I latch on for some recovery time. My legs hurt so much that tears are clouding my vision and I'm breathing so hard that o
Good story...please post the restSpecialTater
Jul 15, 2003 2:15 PM
it was cut off at the bottom.
Sorry, here is the rest: Notes from the back...TFerguson
Jul 16, 2003 8:47 AM
I finally make it off the steepest section and start to speed up but the now smaller lead group is gone. Another small group catches me and I latch on for some recovery time. My legs hurt so much that tears are clouding my vision and I'm breathing so hard that one of the other riders asks if I'm all right. Answering is beyond my current ability.

The rest of the lap is pretty hazy but I keep thinking, "Top 20." If you've seen "The Hard Road", Jamie says that the pros can think and plan while feeling the pain. I'm not a pro. There is no longer any strategy or tactics – just pedal as hard as I can. I cross the line 14 out of 36 finishers and make the goal but wish I wouldn't always make that one really big mistake. Every race I learn another valuable lesson the hard way, but it seems there are an infinite number of lessons.

TF