Suffice it to say that my experience at Hilltown (née Hillytowns) was a little different from the other Thresholders.
After fully jinxing myself with an email to the team about the strength and longevity of my Vredestein Tri Comp tires (with about 5,000 miles on them) on Thursday, the cycling Gods opened up the road @ mile 10 of the race to sprinkle a little bit of irony into my weekend.
The long grooves on the back roads of Windsor, MA were in generally decent shape but in a few sections there were some rough patches. I happened to find one along with 2 other Cat 4 racers. We all flatted in the same groove all within 3 seconds of each other. Pow! POW!!! POWWWWW! (that last one was louder because it was under me)
I can’t speak for whether or not the other flat victims were experiencing the same level of irony but we were each commisurating and talking about how we could work together to get back into the pack.
Unfortunately, an earlier flat victim had tied up the support wheel truck (SUV) so it took what seemed like a few minutes for him to arrive.
The support guy (super-smiley and nice) was able to dig out a PowerTap wheel for me which was extremely luxurious because it would be silly to suffer for the remaining 46 miles without being able graph it on a chart.
11mi, 25mph @190w avg
Wait time to get back on the road: an impressive 1min 30s – Thanks WHEEL GUY!!!
I was the last of the three to get a wheel and we were quickly on our way, working together. We picked up another straggler along the way and were quickly a group of 4 working together.
I probably watched too much Tour on TV this week as I imagined I was one of those hard-headed Sorensons on Saxo-Bank trying to help one of the (skeletor) Schleck brothers. I would say Jens, but if Jens was in my position he would have ridden the flat until the wheel car caught up to him.
I could also hear Paul Sherwen’s voice-over describing how I was taking “all sorts of risks on these descents” hitting 49mph trying to chase down the wheel vehicle.
We chased for 10 miles, right up to East Hawley Road. Fairly good rotation. It was proving hard to catch the pack on mostly rolling downhills – we never had them in sight.
Time 21 min
Avg speed: 29mph
Watts (sans zeros): 280 w avg
One of the guys knew the course well and was telling us about the first inclines on East Hawley (pronounced Hell-y) Road.
We all took notice and managed to keep the pace up. After turning another corner I could see the pack tackling a really steep section up ahead. They couldn’t be more than a mile ahead. This would be great – a little blast and maybe I could jump back on the back and recover.
That little blast took me into the pain cave where I quickly dropped the flashlight.
The pack was gone and they weren’t coming back. Now my groupetto was leaving me too. To make matters worse, the replacement wheel spokes were hitting my rear derailleur in the lowest gear. I avoided this by keeping it in the 2nd to lowest gear which looked like a 23(it felt like a 12). After a few minutes of chewing on the 23 I couldnt take it and bumped it up to the 25. Clang, clang, clang. I stopped to bend the derailleur hanger slightly to pull it away from the wheel.
That lasted for about 7 minutes before I had to do it again. Then again 5 minutes later.
I crested the climb having lost all sight of anyone.
4.1 mi, 25 min
250 watts (including stops) avg (a little gassed from the chase)
I started to ride my own pace. A masters group came by and a slipped in behind them for a few minutes.
I figured it wasn’t that cool to get a free lift off their group – although now that I think about it, had I not flatted I would have had the same benefit with the pack of 4s. Either way, they seemed kind of grumpy. I hope I never make that transition to cranky old Masters racer.
Although, their speed was impressive given the gray hair.
I finally catch on to a cluster of 4s, having been soloing for the better part of the last 10 miles. There are about 8 of us spread out due to varying ability levels. There seem to be 2 guys stronger than the rest.
I knew the final 5-6 miles of the course as we had gotten in a quick warmup on it and we drove it on the way to the race. I just rode at my own pace and quickly found myself separated from the other 7. I got to the top of the first bump 6 miles out and had visions of Turtle Pond or Battenkill where I became a little more selfish in the end(rode away). This time I soft pedaled at the top of the hill to let two nearby guys catch up. To my surprise, they were not two guys that I started the climb with. They were two Masters racers who had caught up and passed the other guys in our group.
I just put my head down and rode the rest of the final 5 miles solo.
I have no idea where I placed. Presumably, 10th from the bottom. Overall, I did have a pretty enjoyable time. I saw some of my best wattage ever (5 min peak @ 355 watts) and solid 260w average for the whole 2:46 (discounting zeros). The scenery was great (outside the cave), the weather was awesome, and I got a fantastic workout. I would have preferred to see where I would have finished without the mechanical stops… but such is racing.
Kudos to L-Train, BB, Cory, Devo, Mover, Tucker – great to be out there with you!