Yesterday I finished up the first big race of the year: the Morgantown Road Race. I never expect this race to be my finest performance simply because I don't ride much during the winter months. Training had been going generally well in the last month as far as consistency is concerned, although I had the flu last week and that created a bit of a setback for several days. As a result, I didn't know what would come of today's race. I did know that it was a beautiful day with sun the entire time, very little wind, and temperatures in the 50s. Very nice for March.
I was really pleased with how well things were going for the first two-thirds of the event. There were a few attacks but nothing that stuck and overall everyone was riding smoothly and safely. Despite this fact I am still not fond of being in a group of greater than 20 riders. Perhaps I was feeling too good because my brain begged me to push the pace on the first major climb in hopes of reducing the rider numbers. I tend to like that climb up Sugar Run Road with its big sweeping turn and higher gradient at the top. I don't particularly like the large rollers that are on top of the ridge though because the prior climb kicks my butt so much. This is a section of the course that can really separate riders out though and my push worked well to instigate a split in the field. I could barely see or hear at the top but I was excited to see the separation. The pack in the front had about 12 riders and we maintained that gap down the large descent.
Approaching mile 30 while descending Woodside Road I was mentally prepping for the next climb when I suddenly had my drivetrain's rear derailleur jam. I'd never had this problem happen in a race! Another rider was kind enough to briefly push me while I was trying to attempt to repair it on the move. The timing couldn't have been worse because riders come through that section at around 30 mph. Unfortunately I could not get the cranks to move forward or backward and I ultimately had to dismount my bike to fix the issue. Several seconds went by with my brain in a state of significant frustration as several riders came flying by me. I tried to get back into the next big group on the road but I was mentally out of sorts and my quads really didn't like that stopping concept. That group formed a small gap from me that I was never able to recover by riding alone. I rode at least 3 miles while being only 20 to 30 seconds behind them in no-man's-land. In the summer months I would probably be able to bridge that kind of gap but not this time of year after a hard climb. I found a rider who had fallen off the pack before I hit Kirby Road and we stayed together for about 4 miles. The final climb was not kind to him and I had to go it alone from that point to finish a disappointing 39th place in Category 3/4.
I felt like my fitness was capable of a top 20 finish. Hopefully next time! I was pleased with how good I felt at the finish despite trying to maintain higher wattages in the final stretch of the race without anyone to ride with. Now I'm extra anxious to dig a little deeper and put today's training to use in our next event at the Greene County Road Race on May 4.