Today was the Pace Bend Road Race which is only about 35 minutes from my house. Pace Bend is one of the biggest Division 1 road races in Texas. It is held in Pace Bend State Park which contains a 6.2 mile loop road which the race is run on. The race ran clockwise and utilized the full road so there wasn't a yellow line rule.
For reasons I stated in my last blog post, I decided to do the 35+ 4/5 race. The race was full at 75 riders.
The first lap was pretty uneventful. Most people were trying to get their legs and get a feel for the riders in the group. I stayed in the first 25 or so on the first lap. The course was mostly rolling hills with 1 small climb in it. I had driven the course the prior day, but this was the first chance to ride it. I decided the only obstacle that would be of consequence was the small climb which was not far from the finish line.
The pace picked up on the second and third laps, particularly coming through the start/finish area where the crowd was. I guess a few of the riders wanted to get their sponsors some TV time. HA! After 3 laps I was still feeling great. My HR was recovering fast after exerting efforts and my legs felt good.
On the 4th lap the pace picked up and I decided to try to stay in the top 10 riders and was able to do that. A few riders got pretty squirrelly as they tried to move up. I heard some contact behind me and the distinctive sound of broken spokes. Whoever it happened to strung together profanities like I have never heard. Something like YOU FUCK SHIT COCK BASTARD PRICK ASSHOLE. It brought a smile to my face. I mean, come on dude, shit happens.
The last lap was considerably faster. I stayed in the top 5-10 for most of the lap. As we came to the hill which is about about 3/4 mile before the finish, a few riders came up hard on the left and a few at the front took off. They all got to the top of the hill and were spent. There was a rider that got away just prior to the hill and he managed to stay away. At the top of the hill I overtook all the attackers and moved into second place and put my head down and hit the drops. I didn't think I could catch the first place guy. I had a gap on those behind me. There is about 1/2 mile of road which is sort of a dip and then there is a hard right turn and then about a 1/4 mile finishing straight. I had it matted near my red line and went second into the finishing straight. I shifted and gave it everything I had. I could see that the first place guy wouldn't be caught. About 1/8 mile from the finish I could hear someone sprinting up on my left. He got by and brought 5 other riders with him. I crossed the line in 8th place.
I am 3rd wheel in the blue and white. This is just before the finish line.
Overall, I am happy with my performance. 8th in a 75 rider field isn't bad. I still am not in top form, but it is not bad at all for February. I know I don't have a great sprint and that is something that I need to work on over the next few months. Next weekend is another big Texas road race, Lago Vista. I look forward to getting out there again.