Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Brooks Gant Race Report - T Town

Tour de Tuscaloosa

Gotta give it up for Chad W., he did awesome this weekend up in Tuscaloosa. 11th place finish in the Crit and 20th in his first road race! Congratulations Chad on some great racing! And Chad summed it up perfectly in his report, road racing is extreme! When the winner of the Cat 5 averages 24 mph for the race, it's just crazy how fast these guys are. And this is only cat 5!!!! As far as my race, I think I will keep my day job!!!! :)

Our family ended up making this race a short camping trip. We left Montgomery Saturday around noon with the camper in tow and headed up to the home of the greatest foot ball team to ever assemble on a playing field, that's right, Tuscaloosa! Caught up with Chad and his family as we were entering the campground. They hung out with us as we got everything set up. The kids had a blast playing on the playgrounds before the storms blew in. Our family hunkered down and hoped our little heaven on earth (aka. Jayco pop-up) would not end up becoming a Unidentified Flying Object on the military's radar! I didn't think it was ever going to stop. It finally settled down around 9 pm.

We all still had a blast even with it raining and everybody was ready to go come Sunday morning! The wife took the kids to get herself caffeine seeing that our kids were bouncing off the walls at 6:30am! I got all my gear ready and road my bike down to the start line. Our race went off at 8:35. We had a rolling start out to the main road. Compared to last year, the first few miles were a lot easier and a lot more in control. There was a lot of "right turn" and "SLOWING" being yelled out in the field. Everybody was working together to keep it safe. I stayed with Chad during the first lap and we were situated about mid pack. About 5 mies in you could sense the pace picking up and the surges begin to happen. We were climbing hills at 19+ and cruising at 24-26. About 3 miles from the finish is a 90 degree right hand turn that is at the bottom of a hill. After the turn is about a 1.5 mile relatively flat road back to the park entrance. I knew once we made this tun, the group would be strung out and it takes everything you have to get back i the group. Well, we were all in a bunch coming into the turn and I played it conservative and ended up slowing down too much and having to max my heart rate out to get back in the group. The problem now was there was no recovery. We were doing over 30 mph to the turn in the park. Problem number 2 - a short, very climb steep right after the turn. Here I was starting to get passed. Problem number 3 - a very long, steep climb about a 1/2 mile further down. At this point I was off the back and watched as Chad went off to fight his own war. I was feeling the hurt but pushing as hard as I could to fight to stay in the second group. This group started to split up and I had to find a wheel or I was going to be in no man's land. I ended up hooking up with Steven from Chain Reaction and I was able to recover for a minute before coming through the start/finish for our second lap. Here we picked up a guy from Bob's Bikes and another guy. But Steven pulled ahead of us on the next climb. We kept him in sight the whole second lap and were pulling him back. I was riding strong but little did I know, I was using up precious fuel. I was putting in strong pulls of 23-24 mph and we caught a couple of others.

So our group grew from 2 to about 8 and we were motoring! One thing that was really making me mad during the second lap was one of the guys was pulling out of line when it came to be his turn to pull. He did it every other time his turn came up. He would just pull out and go to the back. Especially if a hill was coming up. I was thinking he was hurting but looking back, he was just saving himself. We finally made the right-hand turn to head back to the park entrance and we hit the after burners! There were about 3-4 riders that included Steven down the road and we were killing it!!! I looked down and we were going 32-33 mph but our pace was starting to slow as nobody wanted to pull anymore. Everybody was feeling the pain. I knew I wasn't going to be able to hang with this group on the following climbs so when it was my turn to pull, I cranked it back up and bridged us up to the group ahead and pulled the group of about 10 guys to the park entrance. At this point, my problem from the first lap was about to be my problem with this lap... we turned into the park and got hit immediately with those 2 climbs. I watched as about 10 spots rode off in the distance. I was cooked. I was done. I was hurting. My heart rate was out the roof. But I told myself that the 2nd lap was some of the best racing I had done and that I needed to settle in and ride the last lap as a personal time trial and not lose any more spots (that was if there were any more spots to lose at that point!).

The only racers I saw the third lap was a the leader of the junior race who flew by me on one of the hills and the Pro Women who motored by me on the last big climb. It was amazing amazing to watch the power those women had pushing up that climb! In the end I ended up with 40th place out of about 50 riders. Like I said, I will be keeping my day job. :) It seems like every race I do, no matter how I place, is always more fun than the previous. And this race did not disappoint. It was a blast! I learned a lot more about road racing (this was only my second road race) this weekend as well and hopefully I can improve.

Race time: 1:32
Avg Speed: 20 mph
Avg Heart Rate: 175
Max Heart Rate: 195 (I have never seen my heart rate this high before!)
Distance: 30 miles

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