A rather different week than previous outings. My family picked me up at the office early (before 5:00) so Orion could ride in the Kiddie race associated with the Short Track MTB race (which also happens Monday nights at PIR, but on the infield & motocross course.)
Orion, I gotta note, loves doing this. I asked him yesterday before I went to work if he’d like to race that night, and I think he talked about it all day. This is a lot of anticipation for about five minutes of riding! Kiddie races don’t have placement, and Orion is pretty consistently the youngest rider on two wheels with no pushing. So he’s often the last rider off the course. But that he a) wants to ride and b) always finishes — that’s plenty of fatherly pride right there.
I watched a few minutes of short track MTB and it was enough to convince me that short track MTB is superior to long track road racing, at least on the Funness scale. It looked to be perilously close to cyclocross, minus the off-bike shenanigans (runups, barriers, etc.) but plus a little bit of air. The atmosphere was much looser as well, more festival-like than the Serious Business out on the track. They had a soundsystem blasting reggae, for example. And the crowd was about five times larger than out on the asphault, with many more women.
(There’s a thumbnail guide for Fun Bike Activities: are there a lot of women doing it? Road racing is kind of a sausage-fest, very macho. So maybe, not so much fun? I like the actual minutes of road racing (so fast!) ... but the surrounding atmosphere, not so much. Theoretically, I could race Short Track at 6:00 and still have a few minutes to switch bikes and road race at 6:45. Theoretically.)
Besides, I gotta use that Kona Caldera for something, don’t I?
...started in the usual desultory fashion. I was afraid the lack of a warmup would hurt me early in the race. On my previous races, I rode out to PIR so I started really warm. The lack of warmup last night didn’t seem to affect my start like I’d feared.
I had twin fears for the weather, that it would either turn sunny (I didn’t have my sunglasses and half the race is straight into the sunset), or that it would rain (never road raced in the rain before ... those scary corners!) Neither contingency emerged. It was mid-60s, humid, cloudy, and windy the whole race. Perfect, except maybe for the humidity. My jersey & cap were soaked.
Thom raced too so I had a buddy in the pack, which was good because the field was much less conversational than usual. So at least I had Thom to talk to. I think everyone was bummed they weren’t racing Short Track MTB (well, that was my excuse). I also had Jenny and the kids cheering, but I felt for Jenny. PIR races must make dull entertainment for three year olds. Every three minutes a pack of cyclists would tear by at 25–30mph and then...nuthin’
On every lap I lost a little headway on the corners. I can’t decide if my lousy cornering (especially on the “festival of corners” — the double dogleg at the west end of the track) is due to some particular characteristic of the Vanilla (or its tires?), or just bad handling on my part. Probably Option Two. I also had a little trouble regaining favorable positions after corners or primes, and I twice (heroically! but also foolishly!) chased breakaways with no protection. So I spent a lot of this race exposed to the wind.
I held the front third to quarter of the field — except for the primes — until literally the last corner of the last lap. I just had no legs for it, and fell back to 23rd of 37 at the finish. It was dispiriting but not unexpected. Was it because I didn’t have a warmup? Did Saturday’s friendly ramble with Thom and Chris up the Gorge tap my legs harder than I thought? Was it a feed problem (raced hungry/thirsty again, oops!)
After riding 15mi home (uphill!) the last two races, it was a special treat to be chauffered while I ate a burrito. But I really missed that cooldown during the night, and today. Oh my, the cramping.
I also left Strava running through the duration of the race. Full stats here. Summary: 27.1mi @ 24.0mph for 67min, est. power output 206 watts. I suspect Strava’s wattage calculator doesn’t factor drafting, which is enormously advantageous. I don’t think I could sustain a continuous 206W effort for 67min. (Which actually suggests a winning “strategy” for PIR Cat 4/5: a strong time trialler could definitely sustain 200+ watts for the last couple of laps. In fact, this is more-or-less what the winner did. So not so much a strategy as an anti-strategy: train the heck out of your legs and ride a long time trial at the end of the race.)
Last note, math edition: converting watts to kCal is notoriously imprecise without both a power meter and heart rate monitor, but with my thumbnail calculation (kcal/hr = 0.59 * (0.33 * kg * kmph + 0.029 * (kmph ^ 3))), I guestimate this race burned between 1000 and 1800 calories. In a 70min effort that all came from stored glycogen; which means that during the night my glycolitic effort burned about 10oz of fat.