Sunday, August 12, 2007

Birchwood Square Lake Road Race report

I wasn't going to do this race at all. I'm not much of an endurance racer, and after a poor performance at this week's Black Dog and last weekend's Campus Crit, I wasn't proving to be much of a road racer at all and was feeling a bit burned out. But since Sascha was volunteering for the race after her Turtleman triathlon in the morning, I figured I might as well get in a workout since I was going to be there anyway.

I was careful to prepare the night before and the day of in case I did actually race. I had two bottles of Gatorade on the bike, plus more ready to be handed up during the race. With temperatures in the 90s, I knew hydration and electrolytes were crucial. I also ate exactly three hours before the race, and had a Gu 15 minutes before. The only thing I didn't prepare was my bike computer, alas.

The race started out with a leisurely neutral rollout to the start. After that, it seemed to stay pretty leisurely for almost the entirety of the race. I don't know I I was just 'on' or, as some people said, it really felt like a group ride. The pace picked up a bit when my team got on the front in a planned attempt at shedding some riders or getting away. While it strung out the group, the bulk of the group seemed to stay together everyone settled in at a manageable clip. I like to think that we really were cruising, because we were catching the 3s race on our last lap. Without a computer I'm not sure, but I heard we averaged over 21mph. I even helped chase down a break at one point.

I was really feeling good until my Gatorade gave out. After that it was just neutral water handups, as Sascha was too busy helping with the neutral water. I immediately noticed the difference. As hot as it was out there, the electrolytes were really important. The water being handed up was hot from sitting in the sun, so that didn't encourage drinking even water. Halfway through the final lap I started struggling, and then on the final hill before the finish I cramped up like I've never cramped before. I fell back through the field, pedaling with one leg, and was dropped before the top of the hill. Buh-bye. Drew, who's normally an extremely strong endurance racer, succumbed to heat and hydration issues as well, and I heard others were even worse off.

Nevertheless, I'm very pleased because I was able to hang with the field and knew that the only thing preventing me from finishing with the group and possibly in the top 10 was lack of Gatorade. Suddenly I don't hate road races so much. I'm even thinking of the state road race in Avon, which I'd totally written off. I figure at the least it will help me carry some fitness into cyclocross season.

Photos thanks to Skinnyski