Riding with the wind. When I'm sad, she comes to me.
With the thousand smiles, she gives to me...

Fly on my little wing.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tour of Washtenaw: 2nd Road Race Ever

      Last weekend my buddy from work, Daemian, and I did the Tour of Washtenaw road race and had a blast. The unique thing about his bike race is that about 40% of the race is on dirt roads and the rest is paved, with sections of varying length. We both raced cat 5, which had about 36 racers. Having rained the night before the roads were a wet mess and we got filthy (as the pictures slightly show). In some places it was like trying to ride through peanut butter (I HATE peanut butter!). Other places it was super fast and smooth and everything in between. The dirt roads had numerous potholes, which of course were impossible to avoid, while riding in a pack. One could compare certain sections to riding on a jackhammer or as Daemian described it, "Letting Mike Tyson repeatedly punch you in your taint." Despite the mud and getting the crap beat out of you the race was a BLAST and I have a new respect for the Paris-Roubaix (and any cobbled races) pro guys. I don't know how they do it for that long.
     We rode our regular road bikes but got some slightly wider tires with a kevlar belt (these). Considering we didn't flat, the wheels were still true after the race and nothing ill-performed during the race, it speaks volumes to the quality and abuse decent equipment can handle....that being said it's not like we  pro riders or anything.


    For the race specifics the plan was to push hard on the first dirt section and break the group up in an effort to limit our chances of crash carnage. I was part of two breakaway attempts in the first 8 miles, but neither stuck. I lost both my bottles on one pothole, after forgetting to put one in my back pocket. Daemian gave me one of his. At one point there was a turtle in the road and everyone called out "Turtle", which was a first for me.
    After we got back onto the pavement, we decided to just hang out up front and wait. There were two UofM guys and a couple other groups that were happy pulling so we let them do all the work. Something that I'm not sure I really like about bike racing, but I understand somewhat, is the tactics and strategy. I guess one could say you have to "use" the other riders to your advantage. Just part of the game making it so the strongest rider doesn't necessarily win. The first cat 5 race I did last summer was a great learning experience in all of these points.

Finish Line
     So we were just staying on the wheels of the front guys as they were putting in efforts and breaking up the pack somewhat. At one point I was behind a guy on a cyclocross bike when we hit a muddy section and, while I was already filthy, it added insult to injury. But it made it fun and reminded my of a particularly muddy Cross Country Regionals in College. With about 15 miles to go, there was a dirt section and there were about a dozen guys in the front group. People were putting in some good hard efforts and stringing us out. The pace dropped off a bit, like they were done and I decided it was time to go so I went off the front. I looked back and they were all strung out. A minute later everyone was blown apart. There was one guy on my wheel and a group of two about 50yds back. Everyone else was way back there. We sat up a let the two behind us catch up so we had a group of four to work with. That didn't last long and soon it was me and the guy on the cyclocross bike. We worked together for about 5 minutes before he dropped back and I soloed the last 10 or so miles for my first W at a road race. Being it was a cat 5 race I'm not dwelling nor bragging about that fact.
     That race was a fun experience and I'd love to do it again next year. I'm also planning on doing several more bike races this season. It's a great change of pace from triathlons in addition to the fact they're cheaper. Now I'll upgrade to Cat 4
It could be dirtier. 


1 comment:

  1. That regional race was one of my favorite moments in College.