Yeah, that’s how I felt at some point in each of the two races at Grayslake this weekend. This is a course that I love and have raced several times. It’s fun, fast, not too technical but has many sweeping turns and is a blast to race. The added twist this year? I would double up and do the 30+ open. I’ve double up and done masters races before (mostly 4/5 until they started raising the age to 35+) so that wasn’t the issue. The twist would be that this would be only my second 30+ open…ever. Let’s just say that the first one was over so fast that I didn’t even know it started; so I avoided them for an entire year. I was hoping to last a little longer than a lap this time.
Line up with 50+ other riders and have a good position. Get a good clip in (which is hard because I run my peddle tension super high for sprinting purposes) and notice that they are stringing out as soon as we hit turn one. Pace is high and doesn’t let up…for about 14 minutes straight. I keep looking at the HR monitor but it doesn’t matter, I’m at 95% of my theoretical max so all I see is flashing numbers. Who is driving? Fay and company – go figure. Please make it stop! I keep trying to cool down but it’s not working. Pace would stay north of 26 mph for the duration of the race.
I’m sliding back, but I’m not worried because I’m only about 20 spots from the front. We go around a few turns and I swear I hear the moto behind me. I take a look back, I’m 2nd to last! WTF? Where is everyone else? I gun it up the left during a straigtaway because there is no way I’m hanging out at the back. Come around a turn and there is about 20 people pulled off on the left side of the road. Hmmm, Pace Car must have told them to get out of the way (wrong delirious kid, there was a crash you didn’t hear). 4 to go, time to find a wheel. There goes Q from P5…there goes Mr. Perez in the IU kit…those two wheels are about as good as it gets.
Pace slows way down with 3 to go. Fay yells at the lead six “come on guys, let’s pick it up.” A rider yells back “what have you done?” They start arguing. “Ryan, stay focused!” I yell from behind. Squirrels are running rampant around the front of the pack. I’d rather ride safe than go to work with a broken face. Lose the good wheels but manage to stay close in the sprint. Finish 11th. Q and Mr. Perez? 1st and 7th respectively. Spent 27 minutes at 95% and ran an average HR of 178 for 40 minutes of racing. My threshold last year was 172. Guess I have a new threshold?
I spent two hours eating and hanging out with teammates. Get warmed up and ready to go for round two (course now includes a chicane). Pull up to the line but have to wait a little bit as one of the racers who just finished and is on the podium will be racing with us (woman from Team Mack). Good, at least I will know one wheel I can follow because I am now entering foreign territory. I know only a few of the riders but it doesn’t really matter, they're all 1’s, 2’s or 3’s. Can I not race? I really don’t want to anymore. I typically have to pee a billion times before a race. This race? My arms are literally shaking. Adam tells me I have to race. Riders ready? Crap, here we go.
I get another good clip in and slot in about 5th wheel. Riders start to peel off until I am second wheel. Two riders come around and get about a 15 meter gap. All I hear from behind me is “go get him.” Crap, I wasn’t ready to work just yet. Lead rider pulls off and I start digging for about 30 seconds but I’m already not feeling it. Roll off and reslot in somewhere towards the front. Attacks keep coming – they’re trying to establish the break. Average is about 4/10th of a mile slower than what we ran in the 4’s BUT, the accelerations to reel in the flyers are hurting me after already having raced. We never braked in the corners or the chicane (so refreshing compared to the 4s) and were single file most of the time. Crap, can we please slow this down? Yeah right, get to the back of the train kid. A good friend (Mike Shea) told me to just survive until the break got away, then things would calm down. Too bad the break got away about 2 minutes AFTER I cracked off a massive acceleration to reel in the front riders. 27 minutes in, I waved the last two riders around and slowed down.
Can I quit? Now just how will that look on the site? DNF. Not happening, I started it, I will finish it. Adam and Meg gave me TDF cheers every time I came around (complete with running along the side of the course). You’d be surprised just how much of a difference a cheer can make when your body is breaking down underneath you. Lapped by the break at 39 minutes and by the field as we crossed the line for one to go. Finished 24th out of 31 starters. Not the best result, but I wasn’t DFL either. Kid asks if I want a lemonade for 25 cents. I tell him I’m wearing a skinsuit, I don’t have anything on me. Meg offers to buy all three of us a cup. Best 25 cent lemonade I ever had. Plus one of Meg’s cupcakes to wash it down with – life is well now!
Next up? Glencoe 4s and another 30+ open. Why do I keep doing this? Must be something in the Kool Aid…lemonade…cup cakes…