Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Men's D Perspective of the Univ of Texas Race

1. Being in a packs of D's is scary.

2. Corning in a pack of D's is wayyyy scarier.

3. Walking through mud in cycle shoes right before riding is not good (duh to myself)

4. Most importantly, don't leave gloves wadded up in a shoe over night after a day of racing in that shoe. I don't think my gloves will ever be the same.

I'm sure there's more that others can add on.

Overall this weekend was super fun. Before this weekend I had only seen like 30 mins of driveway and that was the extent of my racing experience. Here's my attempt at a brief report from the D point of view (I specifically chose a major that didn't require an English class so this will be short and likely have bad grammar).

Saturday began a lot earlier than I was used to waking up, but that quickly wore off after getting my kit on and hopping on my bike. I didn't really have any idea how much to warm up or anything so I rode around for a little while and waiting with my fellow d riders near the start. After the role call and funny chat by the guy in the LSU had it was race time. We started with a "neutral" roll out for about a mile, which was quite a bit faster than I considered neutral. Once we passed the church the pace picked up to 25ish until the first race pace turn which destroyed the pack immediately. With all the braking and wobbling we were immediately stretched out over at least 50 yards or so. I was about midway in the group so after the first few turns I was starting to feel those sprints to stay on the main group.

Eventually I was hanging near mid/rear with Michael until his bike was no longer fit to ride (I'll let him or Steph elaborate about that). After a short sprint to catch up to a couple SMU kids we held a steady 19mph for  most of the first lap till one of them flatted. Luckily I was being towed most of that lap and I was able to pull us up to the next group which consisted of an OU triathlete who was "just there for a workout" and a good hearted, but quickly dying Baylor guy. This group lasted all but 30 seconds and I found myself riding solo for the remainder of the first lap and the first few miles of the second. And then my legs were saved. A group of freakishly in shape high school guys caught me and insisted on towing me, so I jumped on the back of them with a little help from who I guess was their leader. They pulled me about 8 of the last 10 miles and I was on my own for the last two. After passing a pair of ladies on the last hill I finally saw the finish line and gave it what I had left. I believe I ended up placed 30-something but I was just happy with finishing strong.

After an amazing cheeseburger for lunch it was time trial time (Matthew's note "AWESOME"). My legs were not feeling it. Blaine pulled till the church (1.5 miles) and it was my turn. I already felt like I had biked at least 10000 miles so pulled as hard as I could for about a mile and that was it. I gave a brief wave and watched the 3 of them reel in and pass the first Tulane pair and then they were out of sight. After that I just tucked as tight as I could and made it back to the finish. We ended up with a 4th place finish.

The crit was by far my most favorite race of the weekend. This race began with 3 of these supposed "neutral" laps. By the second neutral lap a guy from UNT had attacked and put himself about 50 yards ahead of the pack till the officials reminded him we were still neutral. Once the race actually began I was on the outside out of the way of the people braking which allowed me to conserve some energy by not have to sprint and bridge a gap after every single turn. I held on near the middle for about 10 minutes and steadily began to find myself moving backwards in the pack. About halfway through I was in a group holding about 20mph average through the course for the next 5 minutes. With 10 minutes to go, a guy from Texas attacked right off of the last turn into the headwind. This destroyed the group leaving the remaining 4 of us spread out just enough where we couldn't gain anything from each other. Two dropped off and I held with a rider from Baylor for most of the remainder. We leapfrogged each other till the end and finally with I think 2 left my legs officially died and I found myself struggling to hold on to his rear wheel. By the last lap he had put a good lead on me, so with three turns to go I attempt to give all I'v got and get up to my race high 31mph with that beautiful tailwind on the back straight. Unfortunately this same awesome tailwind led me straight to the headwind of death. I still gave all I had at the end and crossed at a blistering 21mph. All I know is that there were at least 3 other guys behind me so I was happy.

Even though I didn't earn us any points I would definitely label this weekend a complete success. Now I know what to expect and have set myself some solid goals for the rest of the season. Can't wait till the next race.

Submitted by Erik Johnson - Texas A&M

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