I had been looking forward to the Heber Valley Circuit race all summer.
It was a chance to race on familiar roads, a chance for my family to come watch me race for the first time, and a chance to prove to myself I could keep up with the fast guys.
To be fair, it was a tough race.
The course was an 8 mile loop with a long flat fast section down 1200 S. and a rolling climbing section gaining 450 vertical feet on the Lake Creek road.
The Cat 3/4 racers would do this circuit 8 times.
With over 60 miles, 3,500 ft. of climbing and the repetitiveness of a circuit I had signed up knowing it would take a tremendous effort to even finish, let alone be competitive amongst stronger and more experienced cyclists.
I had figured two days would be enough time to recover from our 90 mile "Tour de Reservoir" adventure, but even as I was warming up the morning of the race, I could tell my legs weren't 100% that day.
I knew I was in for a rough race, but I was still confident I could hang in there.
It didn't start out too bad.
No, at first it was fun.
We were cruising! In a pack of 35 racers, we were topping speeds over 40mph on the long gradual downhill section, and cruising over the climbing sections a much higher pace than I'd ever done those same roads before.
"I've probably biked too much this week," I thought to myself as I struggled to keep up with a nasty acceleration during the 3rd time past Lindsay Hill.
It was the beginning of the end.
The 4th lap wasn't so bad and gave me a chance to recover.
The 5th lap was a mess.
Race officials attempted to neutralize the 3/4 race to allow the faster pro racers to leapfrog us. The major issue was that we were on the fast downhill section, and stringing out the 30+ member peloton to single file at 30mph was tough job.
What resulted was a energy draining bungee cord of a peloton that what from 30+mph to under 20mph multiple times with total confusion on whether we were allowed back to racing or were still neutralized.
Several times racers banged into one another with brakes squealing and tire skidding.
Poorly positioned at the back, where the elastic band effect is the worst, I fell victim to the sketchy braking, skidding and then accelerating several times.
It was very stressful and tiring, but I stayed rubber side down and made it through unharmed.
The second group of pros past and it was back to racing for the 5th time up the climb, and my body started to break down.
Hovering at the back of the peloton, I was suffering like mad and still slipping back from the group.
With help from Tom from the SaltCycle-Intelitechs team, I made it back on the heels of the peloton just in time for the last section of 2.5% grade to the turn.
Digging deeper and deeper, I began to fall off the back again.
My vision was blurry, my heart rate was racing and I felt my legs fill with lactic acid. My legs began to feel heavier and heavier and good pedaling form went out the window.
I was giving everything I had to keep the group within reach, but with 100 meters to the end I was finished.
I tried to chase back after the turn, but it was a hopeless endeavor.
For the climbing section of lap 6, I was a pathetic mess and could barely muster 8mph up Lindsay hill.
By the time I made it to the finish line for the start of lap 7 I was far behind and doing two more laps seemed stupid, so I dropped out.
It was horrendously disappointing to have only survived a mere 40 miles of a 60 mile race. These guys were much stronger than me and I had no business trying to race with them that day.
It sucked to get lit up like that.
|A defeated smile after dropping out. And that's my little brother Joseph with the excellent photo-bomb.|
"Could I have dug deeper? Why did I do so much the week before? Why did I think I could compete with these guys? Why am I not faster? Why do I even bother?" and most importantly, "How can I get better?"
Obviously not finishing that race has really bothered me, and I want to train better and smarter so it doesn't happen again.
This week will be an easy week, as after 3 heavy weeks it seems to be the best thing in order to be ready for the Ultimate Challenge in two weeks.
Although I'll be taking some time off the bike, I won't be taking time off from training.
It's my goal this week to reexamine my training and nutrition in its entirety, and design a new and more focused plan for the next 6 weeks heading into LOTOJA. After that, I'll set my sights on what needs to be accomplished before spring races in 2014, as its become apparent that I need to work much harder if I want to belong at those races.
Failure sucks, but it may be the motivation I need right now.