Wednesday, June 6, 2007

edgar soto - stage 4

Man, it's taken me a long time to get this up. Two issues, most likely, have contributed to my procrastination: (1) I was disappointed with Monday's result and (2) so much steady blogging got me bogged down, dampening my enthusiasm.

Anyway, Stage 4 was a quality event. Seventy-seven miles of up-and-down along rural Tennessee roads ending in a 5K climb up the Cumberland Plateau. I predicted before that everything would come down to that climb. About that, at least, I was right. What I wasn't right about was my prediction about how well how many people would be riding once we got there, and how well I wouldn't be riding against them.

I played it casual through the whole race. I kept my nose out of the wind and moved up near the front before the bigger hills and the long downhill section. I stayed watered, fed, and for the 20 miles or so before the finishing climb felt increasingly good. I mean, I felt good, but I also felt good in comparison with how I perceived those around me to be feeling. It seemed like with each roller I was riding stronger and the field was losing steam.

A long two-man break was finally reeled in maybe 15 miles from the finish. When we hit the climb there was one rider off the front, but I assume he was reabsorbed on the climb. Anyway, I hit the climb in perfect position--about 10th wheel. The pace was steady, no one was attacking, and all seemed well. Except that all seemed well for too many riders. About 1/3 the way up the climb the lead group still had about forty riders together en masse riding tempo. The wild attrition that I had expected didn't materialize, the pace stayed high, and ultimately I couldn't hang on. I'd slip a rider or two, then another few positions, and finally there I was at the tail end of this lead group trying desperately to hang on, but knowing I'm just not going to be able to pull it off.

I finished the day 32nd, 1:44 off the pace of the stage winner. With that result several riders jumped me in the GC, and I finished in 21st place. Fat. Old. Slow.

One has to put these things in perspective, of course. I'm not the flyweight climber I was in high school...and as I pulled across the finish line and took a look at those that finished in front of me I couldn't help but notice that many of them looked much more like that--long legs and narrow torsos, skin so thin you can see the veins across their ribs. I'm a good 10 lbs lighter than the last time I finished this race, but my ribs would still make much better eating. The biggest disappointment is that what for me was a sensational TT result feels squandered. After that TT I felt like a finish in the money (Soto paid out 15 places) was guaranteed; a top 10 finish highly likely.

Anyway, now that some time has past I feel better about the result. And motivated. Which is good, I suppose. An overall satisfying effort, but just dissatisfying enough to work a little harder.

I've only finished in the money once since upgrading to Cat 3. That needs to be corrected.


KingM said...

Man, I admire the work you're putting into this. Admire and envy a little. My father used to do that sort of thing when he was my age and still has a nice collection of trophies and such from various races, triathalons, etc. Seemed as he got older he continued to get stronger compared to people his age.

Alas, I feel much too fat and lazy at the moment to accomplish anything similar.

Hey, check this race out:

If you like climbing, you'll find it fun. That green bridge you see pictured on the main page is one block from where I live.

goat said...

It's never too late. You live in such an outdoor mecca. Pick your poison: cycling, running, x-country skiing, paddling...

I think the competition of it sometimes spoils the fun. But sometimes it makes the fun too. It's a lot of fun to show up at races and see the same guys and watch your friends improve and get results. The friends/social/community bit of cycling can be really energizing.

goat said...

Oh yes... And I'm going to email you later about that race. It's been on my calendar since the move.

KingM said...

Fat and lazy is relative, of course. I'm probably in great shape compared to many, but when I read about your exploits I definitely feel inadequate.