Took long enough.
Richmond Coastal Challenge, May 27, 2010, C race. Cool and a bit breezy but otherwise a great night for racing. I got there nice and early for the 6:30 start only to find out that the start was, in fact, at 7pm. Ten guys starting, a couple who recognized me as 'Cannondale guy' from two weeks ago and mentioned they'd be watching me. That's cool.
So the race starts, a Devo rider and someone else go off the front almost immediately. A couple of other guys follow, but the two get serious and are off on their own. They take the first prime and are holding a fairly steady gap. The field is not working well together to pull them back, but since they are not really getting further ahead, I'm content to sit at the back and keep an eye on things. A couple of laps later, the gap actually starts to go out a bit again so I work my way into the rotation and when I hit the front accelerate a touch. Two goals: One, bring the race back together. Two, stretch out the legs of everyone a bit.
I got a bit carried away and twenty seconds later had a tiny gap. I eased up, so did the field behind me. In the interest of punishing this kind of behaviour I stood up and crossed the gap, leaving the pack behind. They accelerated and a lap later, as I was coming off the front of the break, the pack rejoined.
A couple of laps later, another prime was called. The Devo rider took it and when he had a gap, continued riding pretty hard. I bridged up to him and when he pulled off, continued onwards. Unfortunately, I think he was blown this time. I eased up a bit but ultimately it all came back together again a half lap later. Four to go.
The next three laps were slow. Really, really slow. My plan was for the last lap heroics so I was content to rest and recover. This was solidified as I had decided that even if I wasn't going to win, a fast last mile would at least make it a bit safer, so I was going to pull the entire time. The two short breaks had gone well and I felt pretty good. 50m before the start/finish line on the bell lap I sprint as hard as I can. Someone yells something to the effect of "Get on his wheel!" but no one does. I got a few seconds on the field almost immediately and by about halfway through the lap it was clear to me that this might work.
Glances back on the corners showed that the field wasn't really closing in. 300m to go and I peek and see someone coming across the gap. My brain was totally fried so I took another look to confirm a couple of seconds later. Yep, definitely one dude coming quickly but not fast enough to catch me. Damn, I'm going to win.
Numbers (I need to get a power meter...) : 53km/h to get the gap, up from a ridiculously slow 33km/h or whatever we were going at the time, a pretty decent jump for me. 1:47 for the last lap, which works out to about 43km/h average. Last lap was something like 40 seconds faster than the penultimate and a personal record on the course for me in any situation. New max heart rate of 196.
Realizations: Winning hurts. Granted, a 2 minute max effort is always going to suck, but that was undoubtedly the sharpest pain I've ever felt on a bike. I was seriously concerned shortly after the line that I might not be able to stay on the bike. As it was, I did a 'lift one fist 6 inches above the handle bar' victory salute, then was too scared to take the hands off again for a solid two minutes.
It was awesome. Taking a week off due to work concerns, but with a mountain bike race this weekend and one or two crits next week, I'm pretty excited.
Took long enough.