By Chris Kinonen | Apr 6, 2009
Race name: Hillsboro-Roubaix
Race date:Saturday, Apr 4, 2009
XXX AthletiCo is a truly a great team, not because we seem to have the most riders at every race, but because the quality of riders is top notch. Hillsboro was a great example of the strength and depth of the team. Congrats to the four brick winners and everyone who competed in this rightful top tier regional race.
My event was the Cat 3’s, which Luke already nicely summarized in his race report, so I won’t rehash what he wrote. Instead, I will give you a perspective on how the race transpired for me and what crossed my mind at certain points. Perhaps it will help convey some learning points to newer riders (and obviously reinforce them for me). To me, this race was a chance to get to know teammates better and hopefully contribute to overall team success.
We arrived about 2 hours before race time. Registration was remarkably smooth and quick. I was psyched to pick up my first ever timing chip, which was an ankle strap. Once on, it felt a little like I was on house arrest, but I thought it might give me some wicked new cycling tan line to add to my collection. Despite my tan line pride however, I lathered the sun screen on my face and neck, all the exposed areas. It was still a bit cool, so arm and leg warmers were in place. I was going to opt for the short finger gloves but realized I forgot them. Why did I bring 3 pairs of longer finger gloves and not one pair short fingers? My traveling partner, Grant Davis, offers me his old gloves. I almost took them, but then remember what nasty things I wipe all over mine (mostly snot and sweat but any other road grime as well). It would be sort of like wearing someone’s used underwear so I opt for my lightest pair of longer finger gloves. I check out the finishing stretch and warm up a bit then start noticing how warm it actually is. Immediately before the start, I strip off the leg warmers to soak up the amazing and glorious sun. Was I forgetting something? No, but I am going to be late if I don’t get my butt going (turns out I forgot the sun screen on my winterized, pasty white, Irish skinned legs – big mistake).
We get going. I thought, this is awesome, I haven’t done a road race like this since I was 17. Wow, I’m 34 now, has it really been 17 years? Yes, you’re getting older, now pay attention, it’s a big field.
The pace is not bad but these roads seem pretty narrow. Is this a one way street? No of course not, there is oncoming traffic. Then why is half the field on the left side of the road? Because half the field is violating the yellow line rule. The race official quickly addressed this by stopping us and rightfully threatening to DQ the entire field. OK, we’re going again. What’s the most important thing at this point? Stay up front! But where is the front? Crap, I don’t even know, I’m way too far back. Flashes from 17 years ago are emerging, when I learned all too well what kinds of bad things happen at the back of the field. Crashes, the gutter, gaps, missed moves, the list is long. Move up already!
As the first lap is concluding, we hit the brick. It’s not so bad, but it was enough to jolt someone’s water bottle out of their cage and onto the road. Maybe it will roll out of the way. No, it’s rolling right in front of me. What now, swerve? No, I’ll crash half the field. But if I hit that thing wrong, I might crash half the field anyways. Hitting the brick at almost 40 mph is going to hurt, perhaps even break something. Don’t just act like a deer in headlights, do something. Thankfully, past racing instinct kicks in and I easily bunny-hop it. Crisis averted and now we’re heading towards the start finish. Who’s driving this pace so hard all of a sudden? I don’t know because I am still too far back. Move up!
Throughout the second lap, I am a little further up but still not in a place where I can really help the team. We hit the brick again and there goes another water bottle. Seriously, this again. Thankfully, this one rolls harmlessly out of the way.
We’re through the start finish and onto the third lap. As I am blowing my nose into my gloves for about the 6th time in the race (farmers blows are poor form in the middle of the field), I am thankful I did not subject Grant’s gloves to such abuse.
As the pace is not high, I am more relaxed but begin to wonder, why didn’t I invest in chamois cream before this race? Well, that’s the last I will say about that.
We’re around 50 miles into the race. I have felt good and easily stayed in a field that is now whittled down to about 40-50 riders from 100+. My biggest concern in this race was everything that would happen after mile 50 or so. This was when teammates would be looking to makes key moves or may need help chasing down threats, who are also looking to make key moves. Problem is, I suspected my lack of endurance may limit my usefulness. As we approach a short climb, I get out of the saddle to accelerate and my fears are confirmed. I feel and then watch my right quad cramp into a tight ball. This is not good, we still have 16 miles to go. I sit back in the saddle, drop down a few gears, spin easy and the cramp subsides. The same process repeats itself again with a brief acceleration of the field. This is really not good but I say to myself, there is no way I am getting dropped . I was dropped from the break at a key point of the race last week and it will not happen again. There were some close calls, but I dug deep and survived to hit the brick a third time with the field. I couldn’t get out of the saddle to sprint but gave it my all, and even passed a few riders to finish 31st.
I see a few XXX riders at the side of the road and learn that we finished 3rd and 8th. Phenomenal. In addition, we all either finished in a break or in the field, which is also quite good given the large degree of attrition. The success in this race was due to all the other XXX’ers in the field, but hopefully I took a few steps forward and will be more active in the coming weeks/months.
Before leaving, I wolf down two $1 hot dogs, very tasty. I heard many riders say “thank you” or “thank you for having us” at various stages throughout the day. There was some concern before the race that misbehavior last year may put futures years in jeopardy. I am hopeful that everything went better so I can return again.
1. Stay up front
2. Review a checklist of your gear to make sure you don’t forget anything
3. Don’t underestimate the power of creams. (e.g. chamois and sun screen)
4. Have fun! I really did enjoy this race.
5. XXX rules.
Next up, Leland Kermesse.