Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Cat's Hill Report

One of my teammates had the goal of just finishing this race, and I figured if it was good enough for him, it might as well be my goal as well. To be honest, I didn't do this race last year because it scared me. I wasn't scared of the hill, but rather the high-speed turns and poor pavement. Even this year when I signed up I was still nervous, but as this season has progressed and I've realized how I like more technical crit courses, my fears were lessened.

After riding around the course a few times last week my fears turned into excitement. I realized that this race would be fun, yet probably harder than anything I've done before. Reading the old race reports confirmed my excitement as my own adrenaline would increase with every read report. On to the race...or the race before the race.

Release the hounds, or should I say the racers from the staging area. Speeding down to the start line I was getting amped of what was about to come. Off goes the whistle and we all dash into the first corner. I probably stayed mid-pack for the first 8 laps. I was able to easily make up lost ground coming down the hill as most people were looking to recover while I was trying to make up spots given up on the climb.

Finally after the 9th time up the hill I decided to bomb down the hill and actually hammer a bit. I easily got to the front about 25 meters before the final turn. I took that turn at full speed (which would have been nice to have done on the previous 8 laps) and pulled riders across the start/finish line and through the turns before the base of the hill. I hit the hill, not completely spent from being on the front, but definitely tired. About two thirds of the pack passes me on the hill and it was then that I realized that my legs didn't have what it would take to hold my position on the hill.

But at this point I had a good feeling that I would finish the race and achieve my goal. I saw Matt up the road upon our final ascent on the hill and silently wished him good luck. I shut it down at the top of the hill and coasted on down to the finish. I was spent, physically and mentally.

This race takes it out of you, so much so that I barely remembered some things that transpired on the hill. Several teammates told me how I seemed to be caught behind riders falling off the pace which caused me to dodge left and right to miss the carnage. In retrospect I remember just a few of those, but only one specific incident is burned in my mind. Other than avoiding these riders I don't know what I might have done differently. Actually, if anything I probably should have really tried to string things out when I got to the front with 2 laps to go. I doubt that my finish would have been much different, but it would have been the one thing in retrospect that might have been fun to attempt. Count me in again for next year without the fear.

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