March 29, 2010

70 Miles Plus Rain and Cold

I'm continuing my early season of road racing with my road team, National Capital Velo Club, out of Washington, DC.

I drove to Charlottesville, Virginia on Sunday morning and on the way down, the temperature never got above 42 degrees and began spitting rain. I moved south to DC from New England to get away from these kind of days!

The race was seven 10 mile loops and we started with 125 racers. Just as the 70 mile race was set to begin, it started raining a bit more and 30 miles into the race, it began pouring and the temperature dropped even further.

By the time we hit lap #4 of 7, we were down to maybe 60 riders in the pack. Guys were giving up just because of the cold - I really wanted to call it a day too. I couldn't feel my fingers to use my brakes - not good! I'm still suffering the after-effects from some hard frostbite on my fingers and toes in February during a 13 hour adventure race in rain, freezing rain and snow. Even now, almost a day after the race, I can't feel all of my fingertips.

My team had one rider in the break of 8 that had gone away on lap #3, so my only job was to sit tight and wait for the finish. Unfortunately, on the last lap, my teammate in the breakaway came unglued due to the terrible cold and wet and he ended up back in the field. With 7 miles left in the race, I tried to solo across the 1 minute gap to the breakaway riders. The terrain was rolling, but fairly fast and I got within 15 feet of the break just before the road pitched up and I started to crack from the effort. Ugh. They rolled away from me on the next downhill and finally one guy soloed up from the field to me. He brought me back within 20 feet of the leaders, but my hamstrings chose that time to lock up and I couldn't jump across. So close. Had I made it to the lead group, I would have stood a good chance at a top placing as they stayed away from the main pack.

I was eventually caught by the field with 1 kilometer to go. So close to the finish. Definitely a tough day! I was very glad my parents were there as I needed some help getting home...

Looking forward to getting to race on the dirt soon!

- Jeff

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