We were in Philly for Christmas and New Years and had the chance to see family and friends. We had the chance to meet up with a few newly engaged friends and share the news that Kelsey is pregnant, all very good things. The bad news is that pretty much everyone in the house became ill with some version of the flu and it put me out of commission for a few days. I had a bike in Philly and was doing some training, although the rides weren't that long due to the intense cold. Due to the illness, I missed our yearly New Years get together with my roommates from college. Ironically enough, the first day that I started to feel good was my first day back at work. The other bad part of my illness was that my training regressed by at least a week. I was starting to build the miles and incorporate a little bit of intensity into my workouts so it was pretty frustrating to feel like I was back to where I was at the beginning of December.
So when January began I knew I still had a month before I was going to race. I also knew that I had to travel for work twice which makes being consistent with my training very difficult. It normally takes me about a month of hard training to get into good shape so January was looking to be pretty difficult. The good news is that I found out at a team meeting that 2 new teammates were going to be racing in my category so I won't be racing on my own too much more. I had the chance to meet my new teammates (Andy and Saul) and ride with them once before our first planned race. Training had been progressing pretty well as I have been riding around 25 miles on most week nights and then combining that with 60-70 mile rides with more intensity on weekends. Our first race was scheduled for knights ferry road race and after riding with Andy it was apparent that he was stronger and the better option for a high finish at this race.
The knights ferry road race is 59 miles long, mostly flat, with an out and back layout. We would ride over 2 laps of the course and finish on the top of the only hill on the course. I drove out with Andy and Chris, two new teammates, as our races were starting close together. We arrived early and warmed up with plenty of time to spare. My race only had about 30 riders in it so I knew it was going to be easy to move forward in the field, something that normally I am not very good at and in bigger fields can cause problems at the finish of the race. More on this later. A photo of the finishing hill below.
Our race started off fairly quickly, with a few half-hearted attacks early in the race and the whole field sprinting over the finishing hill and out of the turnaround. The pace stayed variable with accelerations thru the remainder of the first lap. I had started the race towards the front of the field and was shuffled to the back of the field once I was comfortable that no breaks were going to get away. I made a habit of moving up in the field when we approached the turnarounds as it does get a little bit bunched going into the corner and you can get caught having to sprint to catch the rest of the field if you are too far back in the pack.
The pace slowed significantly on the second lap as everyone settled in for the last 30 miles of the race. Andy and I spent time on the front of the field controlling the pace and everyone was happy to sit in and prepare for the finale. With 5 miles to go the field was swarming as everyone wanted to be near the front but not actually on the front of the field. I was getting shuffled back and as the old adage goes, "if you aren't moving up in the field, you are moving back." With 2 km to go I was now stuck at the back of the field and I had no options to move up as our lane was jammed with everyone holding their position. Andy was positioned well in the top five but I knew I wouldn't be able to help him with the finish, I was too far back in the field. As we hit the final hill up to the finish line the field began to explode as people were moving up and some moving backwards very quickly. I waited as long as possible before making my move on the steepest part, I even had to hit the brakes at point as one rider was slowing and I was accelerating up the hill. At the finish line I knew I had passed some of the field but thought that I was still around 15th at the finish line. Results posted below (look under category 4)
Knights Ferry results
Andy finished 7th as he ran out of gas in the last 200 meters of the race and I had clawed my way back to 11th place. I was happy with the finish and the result, it is still too early in the season to be worried about my finishing place but it is something to build on. This was a long race and it felt good to have something left in the tank for the finish. I also wanted to show you my new shoes below and the inscription on the inside of the collar of our new jerseys (a few pictures above).
Possibly another race next weekend, weather permitting.