Tokeneke CAT 3 RR - 8-11-08
Brian Campbell 18th, John Broussard 32nd
Low 70s dry
3 22 mile loops
66 starters, 42 finished
This was my first ‘complete’ CAT 3 race so my expectations were minimal and my plan was to stay at the back and hang on for as long as possible. This course was also a big jump in mileage and climbing from any of my previous races. The loop consisted of mostly down hill / flat for the first 7 miles, big decent, then climbing / false flats for 13 miles, followed by another big decent then finishing with a 2.5 mile climb.
The first lap was uneventful. A small group of riders started a break around mile 4, but I could not see much from my vantage point. The climbing pace was not fast and did not have any problems staying with the group.
The second lap was faster and I was struggling to stay with the group at the mile 7 climbs. Someone must have really been putting pressure on at the front because the back half of the field was strung out single file. I had to waste energy avoiding riders who were falling off (I should have been up in the main pack). I was also timid on the two big down hills and opted to maintain a several bike length distance between myself and rider in front instead of holding my position as riders cut around. Consequently, I slipped to the back of the pack by the time we hit bottom. The final climb of the second lap was not as fast and I was able to easily stay with the group.
At the end of the second lap, I received much needed neutral water since I had finished both of my 24 oz bottles awhile ago. (I was not sure how much longer I could have gone without it.) There was a slow down just after the feed zone which allowed me to catch my breath and eat. When the pace did pick up my right hamstring and calf twitched indicating I was close to cramping.
The final lap started off slower then the first two. At mile 4, the temp dropped and it started to rain which caused the field to bunch. This allowed me stretch my right leg and got rid of my thirst (I drank half of my 24 oz water in 4 miles). I was concerned about the mile 6 down hill with limited braking but luckily we passed the rain just before the decent. The mile 7 climbing pace was not as fast as lap two. I did look back to see that half the field was gone and I could now hear the support car which provided plenty of motivation to keep going. I focused on staying in the middle the remaining field as we shed a few more riders before the final climb. After the decent, I was at the back of the pack again for the final climb which was the wrong place to be. A front group started to pull ahead and I passed about 7 riders to follow. Unfortunately, I was the last one in the group which was strung out single file and I kept having to ride aroundpeople and make up the gaps. After one mile I found myself with a 20 yard gap after a passing a few more riders. I stood up to pursue but they picked up the pace as well and I could not bridge. I was very close to my limit and was worried about cramping and completely blowing up so I sat back down and spun. After a few minutes they started to pull away and I finished about 75 yards behind the group with 4 other riders.
I was encouraged by my result but it certainly exposed my weakness in maintaining good position. I also noticed my rear brake pad had been rubbing during the race which was caused by a large crack in my rear hub across the spoke holes, leaving two spokes dangling from the wheel! I guess I need a new set of wheels. Let me know if anyone is selling a set of race X lite wheels.