Last weekend was supposed to be one of my big race weekends for 2007 – the ABR Masters Nationals, with a 30k time trial on Saturday and a 56mile road race on Sunday. Since I turned 50 this year, that would make me a ‘youngun’ in the 50-59 class, and I had ambitions of placing well in both races – maybe even taking another jersey in the time trial. It still ended up being a big race weekend, but not the way I planned. Last Monday ABR announced the road race was postponed until September, meaning I would have to make a long drive to Rockford, IL for only the time trial. With Sunday open, and being already psyched for a full weekend of racing, I decided to do the Otterville Road Race near Sedalia – which meant coming back to St. Louis on Saturday after the time trial and continuing west another 3 hours (not to mention 3 hours back to St. Louis on Sunday after the race)! It was a hell of a lot of driving (1,002 miles to be exact), and I wish I had more to show for it, but it was still fun getting back into race mode for a weekend and catching up with friends.
It rained Friday all the way as I drove to Rockford. I wasn’t worried about whether it rained during the event, as I’ve time trialed in the rain before and think it actually gives me an advantage. People seem to back off a bit when conditions are tough, while I have no problem staying aggressive. Last year I did the Kansas State Time Trial in a thunderstorm with gale force winds and driving rain. I not only won the 3’s but set a 40k PR – good enough for 2nd overall (behind Kris Tilford). Anyway, Friday’s rain had ended by Saturday morning, but it did almost cause a cancellation of the event due to flooding on the course. However, the race organizers were able to modify the course using some nearby – slightly more rolling – roads. My TT training had gone well this season up until I went to France, but since coming back my threshold interval workouts had been a little disappointing. I was hoping it was just the horrible heat we’ve had these past three weeks and that moving into the 50-59 class would make me a contender. I figured a time of 42 minutes (avg 26.6 mph) ought to win it, so that’s what I was shooting for. I felt good on the way out and passed my 1 and 2min men before the turnaround, but the winds were tough on the way back – mostly head and cross-head. Combining that with the mostly uphill final stretches, I could see I was going to end up ~1 mph below that. I crossed the finish at 43:21 – still good, but was it good enough? As the results started getting posted, I held the top spot in my class until all but the last sheet went up – on which one guy had beaten me by a full minute and 2 others had squeaked past by a few seconds. So 4th place – damn! Still a medalist, but in time trials I’m never happy unless I win. I can’t figure this race out – 2 years ago I had what I thought was a mediocre time (11th overall) but won the 40’s. Last year I improved to 6th overall, but that was only good enough for 5th in my class (though it would have won the 50’s and been 2nd in the 30’s). Then this year I still pull 7th overall but only manage 4th in my class (I would have been 3rd in the 30’s and 2nd in the 40’s). The only thing I know for sure is there are some other really fast guys right around my age – it just depends on who shows up!
After the race I drove to Booneville, MO (8 hours of driving!), where I spent the night before heading down to Otterville the next morning. I had planned to do the Mens 3/4 race, but feeling like I had some good form and already being in ‘Masters’ mode I decided to give the Masters race a try. I’m kinda planning on doing more Masters racing next year anyway, and with no teammates in the 3/4 race I figured I’d see what it was like to race with fish, oldfatguy, and company. Kurt Russell is now on Big Shark, and Tom Zoumaris was also there so I would at least have a couple of teammates. I kind of watched the others at first to get a feel for the dynamic, then started getting in on the action. I tried to bridge up to a break on the first lap but that didn’t work, so I set tempo on the front with a couple other guys and reeled the break back in by the end of the lap. The time on the front hurt me a bit, and I had to really work to stay with things on the climb into town. But I recovered fine and then on the back part of the 2nd lap got a good jump with Gary Dyer on one of the climbs to break free and bridge up to a lone CBC rider. We were away for several miles and had a good gap going, but then the CBC rider flatted. With him out of the break and Mesa never in it we were doomed, and it wasn’t long before fish and the others chased us down. I had just recovered nicely from that effort when we hit a short, steep climb about 3 miles from the finish – and all the sudden my chain wouldn’t catch the cogs! I had to get off and found a chain link partially pulled out – arghh! I got the link back together and immediately got going again with another guy who had flatted just up the road from me, but it was too late and we were too close to the finish to have any chance of bridging back up to the pack. Besides, with a broken link even if we did catch up I’d have no chance in the finale. At any rate, I was happy with how I raced but disappointed I couldn’t have been in there for the finish to see how that played out. I do feel like I at least have a chance with these guys and am looking forward to racing against them more next season.
Anyway, for now my race season is over. I’m skipping Gateway Cup – I have bad memories from last year’s Lafayette Square crashterium, and for once I’d like to spend some time with my family over the Labor Day weekend. The Tour of Ste. Genevieve (crit/road race) is later in September, but I’ll be just returning home the day before from 2 weeks of travel with no opportunity to ride – better just accept that as my end-of-the-season break and look forward to my favorite time of year for cycling – autumn!