Riding weight: 195 (thanksgiving was good to me)
Fitness: Decent, but nothing spectacular
Mood: Tech over UVA...feels real good
I met up with Will in G'town at 7:00 am today to ride up to meet up with the 7:00 am ride as they made the right onto McArthur Blvd. I rolled up around 2 minutes late and only Will was there. Usually, at least a couple of others are there...since the hike up to East West Highway is a trek that early in the morning (not to mention at 28 degrees!). Will is one of those guys that I love riding with. He really enjoys being on the bike and his sense of competition and having fun is great. He's a great teammate. Will had 28 degrees on the computer, it was cold, and my feet and fingers were reminding me that it was "heavy" winter clothing time (and not the light stuff I was wearing) all the way over to Sangamore where we planned to meet up with the group.
The pace today seemed slower than past rides. Maybe it was the cold weather, maybe the fact that most of the heavy hitters are in some state of base training, maybe that Thanksgiving bird wasn't quite digested fully. The pace on the parkway stayed around 24-28, we hit 22 a couple of times but never really picked up much higher. Maybe it's impatience on my part, but unless the pace is driving, I get anxious and start messing around on the front of the pack. I lead us off the parkway and tried to drive the pace a little leading up to Angler's hill. I felt decent, but at the same time I remember someone saying that "...unless you have a reason to be at the front, stay out of the wind (read: don't pull the pack around)".
This brings up a major problem that I have with my racing style. I love being on the front of a bike race. I love attacking, I love leading out for the sprint, and I love trying to chase down breakaways. This is all and good if there is a team plan that consists of multiple guys pulling their share and covering each other, but when there is a bit of disorganization it usually leads to me being exhausted by the time it really counts. I'm not a smart bike racer, but I enjoy it.
So, when the attack came on Angler's, I wasn't able to cover it. I was dropping off the pace, but settled into my own rhythm. I crested Angler's about 5 seconds off the lead pack and tried to chase down into the park. My feet felt like bricks and I hadn't quite caught my breath from the previous climb. Coming back out of the park I felt the legs loosening up, the heart rate was coming back down to something reasonable, and I actually started to real back in the lead group a little. I've suffered with "mental" cracks in the past, and it was good to be able to keep my own rhythm and maintain the effort. I think in the end I was about 5 to 6 seconds behind the group that continued to Brickyard, so not too bad. Holding back a little coming off the parkway might have resulted in being able to cover the "attack".
One of the greatest things about Saturday in general is the sprint on Brickyard. The run-in is long and it really is a great chance to work on laying it all on the line to get your man to the front. Clifton and I have been trying to dial it in for quite some time, and Jose and I have been working on timing as well. Today, Agent Nick and some of those young boys got off the front and we had to put in a huge effort to try to bring them back. I ended up having to put in the big effort early to try to help chase them down, so lead out, but I think I was holding around 34-35 for a while before pulling off. It paid off I think...rumor is that Carlos snuck the sprint away from Nick in the end.
Overall, a good ride: About 55 miles, 30 degrees, and a couple of good efforts. Tomorrow I'm doing the 8:30 ride out of Silver Spring. If we get a couple of guys there from R1V I'm going to try to get us organized to lead out the Democracy sprint. That is the one thing we need to work on and dial in.