I had to go home last weekend to grab a couple things and decided while I was close I would get rid of the itch to ride hard. Marcos Lozzarato, a former UVa Cyclist and current member of Kelly Pro Benefits living in Christiansburg, said it was a great event worth taking part in. That was enough for me, I was in. For those that don't know what Andrew Gold is it is a race-ride with a handicap starting system. C's roll out, then B's, then A's after them and the chase is on. First one to the finish wins, so if the A's can't catch the B's too bad, first to the finish line wins. While I was tempted to take my Cat 4 license and roll out with the B's, I figured this was more for fun and training and hit it with the A group.
Since it is more of a hard training ride and we were trying to catch the B's the race part of the ride began with a simple paceline of 5 solid guys. Early on it was obvious Marcos was the strong man, a little bunch here or there, slightly longer stronger pulls, etc. All in all we were working well together. It definitely felt like a quick and solid start, not too too hard, but by no means easy, then I looked at my heart rate, Geez. So maybe it was a little harder than I thought. Still lots to learn as far as judging my effort, it will come. Once the group got onto 311 and up and over a solid hill it finally seemed to settle down a bit. I'm sure everyone needed to recover a bit from the early effort.
Another turn and a long straight put the B's within sight. The pace quickened to catch them but once we got there it shut down. I think all the A's went to the back of the group and let the B riders pull. We took the opportunity to recover from the 1st half and get some food in. This begins fail #1, we were still rolling along and I was a little worried about a quick attack so I didn't feel comfortable eating. I managed to snack down a Gu but that was it. Probably not the best idea, I'll have to work on that for the longer races I have planned ahead.
I tucked in and we started trading pulls for the next while hoping to stay away from the chasing group of 3 riders. As the pulls continued mine got shorter as I tired out as Marcos just kept rolling it, again guy is strong! Somewhere during this fun little two man TT Marcos started asking me if my derailleur wasn't working, I repeatedly told him no, it was shifting great. Turns out I was spinning a wicked high cadence (probably around 110) and in his own words "We weren't going anywhere, why didn't you shift into your 11?!?" Well, I'm not sure; this is new to me, so failure #2. Oh well, live and learn.
After ~20 minutes of trading pulls we made our 2nd to last turn on to Dry Run Road. I was tired at that point. Dry Run was the one gravel section on the ride and it was a complete mess. Wet, snowy, muddy, etc. problem with that? Sucking wheel also means eating and drinking the road. So what happens when you can't suck wheel? Marcos just rides away. I thought maybe I was just crashing from the effort but I look down at my Garmin and power and HR seem reasonable and I'm cruising 18+mph up 2-4%, well, darn. Again, Marcos is strong. Geez. Just left me like I was riding in quicksand. That sealed up the victory for him. Hopefully with a little more hard work in the coming month I’ll be able to deal with the fatigue a little better. Unfortunately for me, on that day, he was gone, and gone fast!
All in all the event was still a ton of fun! It was great to roll with fast guys and the weather was unreal. I'd say you can't ask for much more but I'm greedy, from there I grabbed a Burrito and headed out to Pandapas pond to hit up some single track with Gavin. Had to clear the system from all the pavement suffering. With all the recent snow and cold temps and the current 60 degree temps the bottom trails were a wreck. Extremely muddy and gross, but still a hoot to ride on. We rode up the mountain which involved a little more suffering that I would have liked but set up a wicked ripping decent back down. All in all a good time. Plus we got to the bottom and tested out our sea legs by riding across the pound. Highlight of the day for sure. With all that under my belt I'd say the day couldn't' have gotten better. Just a great day to put a bike between your legs. It was a good reminder in the middle of a currently cold winter that riding bikes is a heck of a lot of fun!
Keep those pedals spinning,