The Tale of Two Gear Ratios.
In the words of that wicked old knight from Indiana Jones...I chose poorly. I was feeling strong after our big KT trip last weekend and confident about trying to run a bigger gear this year for this race. I ran the 32-19 last year and gambled on the 32-18 this time around.
The good news is I am strong enough to push that gear for a long time up some decent climbs in some oppressive heat. A few years ago I don't think I would be able to say that, so there's a win. The bad news is I can't push that gear very fast up some decent climbs in some oppressive heat. Couldn't get the leg speed up and was having a lot of issues generating momentum let alone keeping it. Course was a lot more chattery than I remember as well which also created some issues maintaining speed for me. Course and conditions were pretty identical to last year so I was able to pull some decent comparisons of my data from both races.
This year is on the left and last year is on the right. 1st lap times were somewhat comparable but things fall off pretty quickly after that. I'm bummed I made this goof because I feel much stronger than last year, if anything I think I should have (and would have) been 4 mins faster not 4 mins slower. Its surprising to me the difference one tooth on that cog can make. I spent some time looking back at results and comparing things and I'm beginning to think this course and me are not a good match. Each year it is typically a low spot for me as far as how I compare with my competitors. This year I was beat handily (15+min) by a rider who I have beaten several times this year. Oh well, it was a good training ride. Felt like 2hrs in the gym doing squats non stop.
Things got going with the mass start up a grassy hill...WEEEEEE! I was about mid pack sucking dust from the dry fireroads kicked up by le peloton. Just like the tour, nervous first lap jitters caused a pile up. Fairly hilarious...looked just like the tour too. From my point of view I just saw a bike shoot up in the air and then a bunch of dudes tip over. Everyone started screaming pile up! and trying to find weird routes around the carnage. Initially things felt good, gear was good on that first flatter high speed portion of the course. Then we hit that first doubletrack climb after a sharp right hander. And I immediately knew I was in trouble. I got up it just fine but my cadence was too slow and I knew I was in over my head and looking at a long day in the saddle.
Shaun caught me shortly after and we cruised together for about a lap and a half. There was still one other SSer off that back with us so I decided my new goal was to race that one guy and forget about everything else. He was good on the climbs but I could pass him in the small techy sections so I figured if I could keep him close enough I could pass him late in the last lap. Heading into the third lap I was getting a bottle when Shaun came through. I asked where Shaun thought he was, I was fairly certain he hadn't passed me but Shaun claimed he was about 30secs in front of him. That was all I had left keeping me going so I took off trying to find him.
Then about 10mins later the guy catches me from behind. Thanks Shaun! You'll get better with that whole who am I racing and where are they compared to me stuff next season maybe haha. I was able to hold him through two more climbs but the one that killed me every lap allowed him to get out of sight and I couldn't claw him back on that descent and that was it. Last lap was solo just out for a cruise, a really hot horrible cruise.
Came in just under 2hrs and snagged 10th for a few points. Yippee. Gonna change gears a bit and start training for the 100 for the next few weeks.