It's finally time for me to start racing this season. Saturday is the Clark State Forest Circuit Race, a super-fun yet super-dangerous loop through a surreal wooded area north of Louisville. Last year I felt absolutely superb during the first half of the race but eventually crashed out when a guy in front of me went sideways. A full flip over the bars and into a pile of leaves to the side of the road was the end for me.
I'm looking forward to finally turning the pedals in anger, but with this being my first race, my goals are merely to build my fitness and help my teammates to the best of my ability. The rest of the races in the Kentuckiana Spring Training Series are tailor-made for our teammate Sean, who currently leads the Cat. 3/4 points standings, so I'm sure our efforts will be directed toward securing more victories for him.
In the end, as long as I keep the rubber side down and finish the race with the pack, I'll be happy. If the team pulls off another win, I'll be ecstatic.
Unlike past race reports, where I've shared my experiences from within the peloton, this one is a little different. For the Henryville Classic Road Race near Clark State Forest in southern Indiana, I sat in the lead car for the Cat. 4/5 field. My buddy Jon was good enough to volunteer his driving services and I played co-pilot as we guided the low category racers around 36 miles (3 long laps) of scenic rural roads.
Actually, we pretty much only saw two guys behind us the whole time, since the eventual winner and one other rider took off from the very start of the race and never saw the 60-strong field again. The two top finishers crossed the finish line almost a minute and a half ahead of the third place rider, who was also way ahead of the main field.
You don't see many 36-mile, two-man breaks that end up successful in the end. Not only that, but they managed to catch and pass the Cat. 3/4 field that started the race five full minutes ahead of them. Good work guys!
In the 3/4 race, the field was much smaller (and slower!) and contained my Team Bolla teammates. I was only able to see them near the very end of the race as our Cat. 4/5 break eventually caught them, but I was able to catch the sprint finish. One of our newest additions to the team, Sean Steele, crushed the field in the final sprint by almost three bike lengths. There was no contest. With his second place in last week's L'Esprit road race and the win on Saturday, he now holds a major lead over the rest of the field in the Kentuckiana Spring Training Series. The rest of the team did very well, too, with just some bad luck for Larry, who had a strong break attempt fall apart after flatting and never catching the field again. He still finished the race with a valiant solo effort.
All in all, a great race, with good weather (eventually) and some strong riding by my teammates. As for me, my season race debut will be in two weeks at Clark State Forest, near the Henryville course. Can't wait.
"Road racing requires stamina, strength, mental focus and fortitude. But the rewards are huge and grow the more effort you put into it.
More and more men are discovering that riding a road bike can be the perfect counterpoint to our cosseted and quick-fix modern lives. We’ve become so used to instant gratification and sanitised pleasure that we have forgotten that the greatest highs come from the deepest lows, that there is a unique satisfaction from applying yourself totally, then seeing the results. From pain comes pleasure."