Our race didn’t start until 11 something so we got a full night’s sleep. We made the usual stop at Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee and donuts then headed to Fitchburg. Today was the day I had been afraid of. It was only a 40 mile road race but I had heard it was a gnarly course.
We arrived at the finish area to find a pretty significant climb. The last 5k was all uphill. We hopped on our bikes and rode the mile or so to the start area. I heard some kid saying there was a 60 mph descent; I knew that meant 50 so I wasn’t too worried. The race began with a loud pop of some guy’s tire exploding.
We headed straight downhill. I stayed near the front to avoid the squirreliness of the back, my home away from home.
The first time up the climb wasn’t so bad. There was a flat feed zone near the top where I was able to catch up a bit. We climbed a bit more and then descended again.
Before the climb we were neutralized because there was another group passing us. As I moved up I heard the voice from yesterday, “There he is, 499, movin’ up on the neutral!”
“Only cause your mom’s up there…” I replied.
“Ha, that’s funny, I bet that went over well in your dorm!”
We sat a bit longer before taking off again. This time up the climb wasn’t so bad either.
Near the top it continues to climb and I lost the pack. I tried to bridge on the descent. I was behind a guy when all the sudden he got some massive speed wobbles. This guy was shaking uncontrollably and I thought he was going to go down right in front of me. I passed him and tried to work my way back to the pack. Eventually some other guys came by and pulled me up to the group.
The third time up the climb was brutal. I just focused on staying on. Once in the feed area I was able to move up. I grabbed a water from the neutral feed and poured it all over me. It helped.
The last time going up the climb there was a selection. People kept dropping off the back. At about 2k to go the pace really picked up. I saw a guy pull over into the grass and fall off his bike, heaving for air.
I held on until the last 300m then died. I gave it all I had until the finish then collapsed in the lawn.
Fifteen minutes later I began to stir. That had been my hardest road race ever. I got up and headed over to the car to pack up.
“Yo! Dude, that was Tyler Hamilton” said Wick.
I looked over to see him walking up the hill.
“Let’s go get a pic!” I said and we ran up to catch him.
He was way cool. He introduced us to his girlfriend and we chatted a bit. Wick spilled the beans by telling him we were just Cat 4s but he said “That’s cool!” Eventually some Cat 3 phenom saw us talking to him and came over. He asked some stupid question about hydration so we bade him goodbye.
We got in the car to head to the start line but it wouldn’t start. Instead of stopping at a gas station for coffee and gas in the morning, Wick had stopped at a Dunkin’ Donuts for coffee and donuts. Good call. We got the car off the hill onto a flat area where it finally started.
Along the way to the start area we picked up a friend.
At the start there was a memo saying I was in trouble for not signing in. Well, me and Rory that is. PRO!
Then we sat out on the grass and watched the descent.
On the ride home I was relieved from having survived the road race. If I could only survive the crit…