49.7 miles, 348 feet, 25.6 mph average
Road season is slowing coming to an end, which means I’m getting a lot less picky about which events I race. The Pinecone course does not suit me. It is a pancake flat 6 mile, 4 corner course. As a result of the parcours it races much like a non-technical crit.
To add insult to injury, the timing of the 3/4 field was impossible for me, so I had to sign up for the P123 – 8 laps of the course or just a hair under 50 miles.
The race started with a few hot laps averaging around 27 MPH. Despite the pace the nature of the terrain made this pace feel pretty easy. I bridged to a few early attacks, but nothing seemed to be sticking.
After turn 1 of lap 4 a group of 8 went off the front while I was in a bad position in the middle of the group. We weren’t riding fast and they quickly got a reasonable gap. After turn 2 a rider from Shirk’s tried to bridge and I closed to his wheel. Three other riders soon joined us and we had a chase group.
However, two of the new guys were surging, trying to shrink the group. The Shirk’s rider and I were having none of this and weren’t responding, so those two rode about 5 seconds in front of us for 3 miles, with the group of 8 a further 20 seconds ahead. By the time these two realized the error of their ways the lead had stretched to 30+ seconds. We now had a group of 5 working well, but we weren’t making many inroads to the group of 8 in front of us.
Part-way through lap 5 the race situation hadn’t changed much except that our gap to the main group had gone out to over a minute and another rider had bridged to our group, making us six strong. He and the Shirk’s rider were clearly the strongest and were doing the majority of the work. Realizing this the newcomer attacked out of the group (dragging another rider with him) and quickly distanced our little group.
I was hurting pretty badly by this point, having been on the break for 15 miles and made no effort to go with them. The remaining four of us worked for the rest of lap 6 before the Shirk’s rider did the smart thing and dropped his three passengers.
I later found out that the first two to move forward out of our group bridged to the leaders, while the Shirk’s rider finished about a minute in front of the main group.
We now had two laps to go with three tired riders. All thoughts were on whether or not we could stay ahead of the 30 strong group behind us. One rider was regularly skipping pulls from fatigue while me and the other guy were struggling to keep the pace above 23. The gap to the main group was shrinking pretty quickly, and we entered the last lap with a much smaller gap.
Coming out of turn three the gap was incredibly small, and the two of us with any energy left completely buried ourselves. I had nothing left in my legs and was in pure survival mode, but all three of us (me in second) crossed the line two seconds in front of the winner of the pack sprint. In case you lost count, second place in this group of three was good for 13th place overall, the second cat-3.
Really hot, humid conditions today. I raced with two bottles and probably could’ve drank four. I did not go out planning on working this hard on such an easy course. Only real regret I have this time out is poor positioning when the break went, I could’ve covered it easily if I wasn’t trapped in the middle of the group. Other notes about the course would be that turn four is a nightmare. I’m really glad I wasn’t in a pack sprint for it – really bad road conditions